New Children's Museum director excited at potential
By Cory Garwacki
HOLYOKE - Things seem to be looking a whole lot brighter in recent weeks for the Children's Museum of Holyoke, thanks to the recent hiring of new Executive Director marypaz.
As the education and programs coordinator, Dana Abrazinski told Reminder Publications, "I think what I enjoy most about working with marypaz is the amount of energy she puts into every aspect of her job each day."
marypaz is her name, and it's very easy to remember being that it's entirely lowercase and just one word.
Having already been on the job at the museum since July 1, marypaz stated, "it's been great to be back in my home state again especially when I'm able to still work for a children's museum like the one we have here in Holyoke."
Speaking of her background, she said, "I started out first as the director of Exhibits and Cultural Programs at the Dallas Children's Museum, where I worked for five years. Then I worked for three and a half years as the executive director of the Northeast Texas Children's Museum in Commerce."
Given her previous work experience, it is no wonder that she feels very comfortable fulfilling her new role at the museum.
Marypaz's educational achievements include graduating summa cum laude from Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in painting.
That's not surprising as she's the granddaughter of a former high school art teacher who she commented, "has been one of the most influential people in my life."
"I learned to love painting and art largely due to my grandmother," she said.
"I feel that part of what needs to happen for this museum is that we need to make the museum an integral part of Pioneer Valley. Therefore, we really are trying to make the museum more accessible to kids and their families," marypaz said.
According to marypaz, "Over the next few months we hope to be able to get various communities involved through the implementation of multicultural programs and exhibits," adding that, "children need to see themselves as part of the world around them, and we need to make sure that we introduce 'new' ideas and cultures, as well as reinforce what is familiar."
One of the ways she and her staff intend to bring about new ideas and cultures is by extending a portion of their space to other area nonprofits to take advantage of other programs.
After being forced to drastically reduce their museum staff to just three employees back in 2006 because of financial instabilities, marypaz said the museum is beginning a new round of fundraising to restore the museum's hours and staff.
In collaboration with Ballroom Fever, Inc, of Enfield, Conn., the museum will present "Fancy Steps at City Hall: A Celebrity Exhibition" at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26. Local celebrities will show off their moves during the event, which will also have time for attendees to take to the dance floor. Tickets are $25 and available at the museum.
Currently, the museum has an arts and crafts program that takes place on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays where kids can come to the museum and participate in creating their own works of art under the direction of supervised museum staff members.
For more information on upcoming events, as well as museum hours and directions, call Children's Museum of Holyoke at 536-KIDS or visit their Web site at www.childrensmuseumofholyoke.org