In July of 2018, the Peabody Cultural Collaborative (PCC) received a $28,000 grant from the Essex County Community Foundation to curate a temporary or “pop up” children’s museum called CuriousCity. The purpose is to provide an interactive museum of art and industry for families and children in Peabody that will boost local economic development and activate support for a permanent museum.
The PCC is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the City of Peabody, and the temporary exhibit will be housed within the George Peabody House Museum and Leatherworkers Museum (205 Washington St). The George Peabody House Museum houses many original artifacts, including portraits of George Peabody and his acquaintances, handwritten business letters to his associates, newspaper articles about George Peabody and Queen Victoria, and glassware dedicated to various Peabody institutes. The adjacent Leatherworkers Museum includes paper materials, leather tools, machinery and textiles produced by the Peabody leather factories. Both are owned by the City of Peabody. Current exhibits will be temporarily moved off-site to create an opportunity for hands-on, interactive children’s exhibits.
“There has been much excitement about bringing a children’s museum to Peabody and we are excited to have the opportunity to partner with the Peabody Historical Commission,” commented Peabody Institute Library Director Melissa Robinson. “The space can be adapted to other uses, is easily accessible and has parking available. We hope through this collaboration we can help generate interest in the George Peabody Museum and provide them with a permanent exhibit.”
Peabody has experienced success using the “pop up” (temporary) approach to test out ideas for potential businesses. Often referred to as tactical urbanism, a temporary installation allows the City of Peabody to try out an idea without a huge investment. It provides an opportunity to engage the general public, track results and capture data without a large capital investment by the City.
“A museum provides the perfect addition to downtown,” remarked Peabody Main Streets President Deanne Healey. “It is the type of destination business that has the ability to provide education and entertainment to residents and visitors, while generating business for existing restaurants and other complimentary businesses. While there are other children’s museums in Massachusetts, it would be a unique addition to the North Shore.”
It is anticipated that CuriousCity will be operate between March through May 2019 and offer several exhibits to engage, delight and entertain children between the ages of two and 12 years. Currently, the PCC is identifying exhibit themes and will be releasing a Request for Proposal from local artists, businesses and organizations who might be interested in creating or sponsoring an exhibit.
“The Peabody Cultural Collaborative is pleased to be taking the lead on this project. Our mission is to unite arts, business and cultural organizations in Peabody to better promote the creative economy and to enrich the cultural life of the region,” commented PCC President Camille Bartlett. “A children’s museum has the ability to bring all of these things together, and the response we have received from the community has been very positive.”
It was through this collaborative spirit that Peabody was successful in receiving a grant from the Essex County Community Foundation, in partnership with the Barr Foundation, to elevate the region’s arts and culture sector and support creative expression and our local creative economy. What makes the economic impact of arts and cultural organizations unique is that, unlike most other industries, they induce event-related spending by their audiences. A typical arts attendee spends an additional $28 per person, per event, over the price of admission on items such as meals, parking, shopping, etc. – valuable revenue for local businesses and the community. These expenditures have a positive and measurable impact on the economy in addition to providing an entertainment factor.
Follow our journey from idea to installation on Facebook (CuriousCity) or Instagram (@CuriousCityPeabody).
Established in 2010, the Peabody Cultural Collaborative aims to unite arts and cultural organizations in greater Peabody as well as promote and celebrate the region’s myriad cultural offerings. It is made possible through the support of the City of Peabody, Peabody TV, Peabody Institute Library, Peabody Art Association, Eastern Bank, Salem Five Bank, Peabody Main Streets, Rousselot, Peabody Historical Society & Museum, Peabody Main Streets, Northeast Arc, Holden Oil, Network Coverage and Kick It Up Consulting. For more information contact the following: Camille Bartlett, Peabody TV, (978) 977-0570; Melissa Robinson, Peabody Institute Library, (978) 531-0100; Deanne Healey, Peabody Main Streets, (781) 718-2778.