Lutz Children's Museum
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|Location||Manchester, Connecticut, USA|
The Lutz Children's Museum is a non-profit children's museum located in Manchester, Connecticut, USA. Originally known as the Lutz Junior Museum, it was developed on March 4, 1953 by a vote of the Manchester Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Council. Their objective was to provide supplemental enrichment to students in their classrooms and asked the community to come forth with ideas.
Hazel P. Lutz, the Chairperson of the Art Department in Manchester and also a world traveler, approached the PTA with the suggestion to establish a community youth museum. During her travels, she had collected a variety of artifacts and trinkets that she believed would be of interest to children. Hoping to use these items as educational tools, she established a “museum” in the storage closet of her schoolroom. Her collection grew through the donations of others and began to include items that could be related to most academic disciplines. From her storage closet, the PTA offered the museum its first official home in the basement of the Waddell School. By 1957 the rapidly expanding museum possessed hundreds of kits and had a volunteer league of one hundred people. The museum was established as a private non-profit organization 1958. The Board of Education also offered the museum a new home in June of that same year, and the museum was moved to 126 Cedar Street, adjacent to Washington School. The building was originally built by the Cheney family, owners of the nearby mills, in 1859 as a school for their children and children of factory workers. On September 26, 1958 the museum opened its new doors to the public. The museum now had a home that would allow the display of its collection, the exhibit of live animals, and a space to hold year-round classes for children.
The museum continued to grow and by 1982, the museum had outgrown its home on Cedar Street and the Town of Manchester had proposed a larger building. The former South School building, situated beside the Charter Oak Reservoir with scenic views of the Manchester Country Club, was proposed as a new location. The museum accepted the larger building and adopted a new name at the same time. The Lutz Junior Museum became the “Lutz Children’s Museum."
Education and events
The museum offers classes in art, history, and natural sciences taught by its resident teachers.
In addition, the Lutz also offers In-School Resource Lessons, during which the museum's educators travel to schools, camps, and other children's programs to deliver lessons similar to the ones held at the museum. "They travel with museum artifacts or live animals and sometimes appear in costume." The Lutz Children's museum educators "typically have undergraduate degrees in their area of expertise, archaeology or biology for example, plus advanced degrees in education and/or teaching certification." For more information about classes and In-School Resource Lessons, visit http://lutzmuseum.org/programs/classes/.
The museum also hosts a number of events each year, including the annual Farm Day held at the Fish Family Farm in Bolton. Art exhibits are held during the school year, where Manchester's eight elementary schools select student artwork to be displayed. The artwork is sent to the museum, where the students are able to view their work on display.
Main Street 1943
The Lutz opened up the Main Street 1943 exhibit in the autumn of 2010. Main Street 1943 is an exhibit and play area designed to replicate Main Street in Manchester in the year 1943. There are hometown staples such as Marlow's department store (now closed), the typical Main Street apartment, and nods to World War II such as an old-fashioned radio, newspapers, and other artifacts. This exhibit explores the history and culture of Manchester, as well as the nation and the world during this time period.
One of Lutz Museum's most popular exhibits is the farm room, which houses a farm-related play exhibit, information and displays pertaining to working and living on a farm, and a statue of a cow that can actually be milked.
One of the staples of the museum is the Animal Room, which is home to snakes, chinchillas, turtles, rabbits, various birds, and, most famously, Chuckles the woodchuck, who presides over the museum's annual Groundhog Day celebration.
Oak Grove Nature Center
In conjunction with the Town of Manchester, the museum operates the Oak Grove Nature Center at 269 Oak Grove Street. Located on the fifty-two acre nature preserve, the museum uses the building for outdoor education programs. The nature center is open for specific programs and events.
The late Hazel Lutz was a beloved art teacher in the town of Manchester. She travelled often, collecting items along the way that she believed would interest her students. She organized a "museum" out of these trinkets in the storage closet of her schoolroom. As her collection grew, members of the community began to donate to Hazel Lutz's "museum," and soon became a collection of educational tools that could relate to most disciplines. The collection was moved to larger and larger spaces until the Lutz Children's Museum was founded in its current location in 1953. The museum still follows Hazel Lutz's mission of combining artifacts from the community and around the world to spark children's interest in education and culture.
- Soper, Kym (2 Feb 2011). "No shadow! Chuckles predicts early spring at Lutz". Journal Inquirer. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
- Lutz, Hazel P. (February 1962). "A Museum Many Made". Art Education 15 (2): 16–18.