To the Editor:
I'm not opposed to museums. How could I be? They are invaluable. I had objections to the proposal (spelled exactly like this, “ever?wonder”) presented to the FHA meeting, last week.
1) The title: “Everw?nder Children's Museum.” “Everw?nder” is not just a non-word, and an awful disservice to every dyslexic child. It is a quadruple, compound misspelling and grammatical error, introduced, for no reason, by adults at a “museum” for children – just at the age when those children are learning to read, to love reading, and are trying so hard to get things right.
Every single publication so far has left out the question mark in “everw?nder." And all of them (including my sentence above) have put a, relatively proper, capital “E” at the start of the title. At our meeting, the president of the museum insisted that the title “everw?nder” is a “dealbreaker.”
2) The marketing. The fundraising campaign of “Everw?nder Children's Museum” apparently got carried away. It is nationwide, sensational, misleading, exploitative of the tragedy – everything Newtown's selectmen, teachers, victims' families, citizens have humanly, miraculously, managed not to be.
At our FHA meeting, I was trying, in a non-accusatory way, to say this. There are news stories from all over the country, based on “everw?nder” president's unfortunate press releases and statements, which, well-meaning though they may be, misrepresent Newtown, it's perfect pitch, truth, warmth, dignity. This sort of marketing is not right for what Newtown is, and has come to mean, in history or at this time.
3) The insistence on locating this project on the Fairfield Hills campus. Other museums, throughout the country, are not on space owned by the towns they are in (why should they be? downtown streets and buildings are just right for rainy-day places like museums). They are not financially supported, through the years, by the taxpayers of those towns.
4) We know far too little about the project itself. The drawings put before us last week did not include the facade, which we saw briefly two weeks ago. Those drawings looked like marquees for a nails salon or a seedy tavern in a declining metropolitan area. They are not suitable for a campus, a town-sponsored space of any kind. At Fairfield Hills, they would drive more attractive projects away.
We have been told our responsibility is not to “create policy.” Fair enough, but surely, as citizens, we should bring our experience, education, character, judgment, to proceeding carefully, to examining what we are contributing to the legacy and meaning of Newtown. What, for instance, will be in that museum? One of its press releases says “a memorial” for the victims. What sort of memorial? Designed and chosen by whom? We have other questions, concerns.
I don't object to a museum, in a town of our size or any size. I'm not convinced that this one, whatever it is, needs to be or should be at Fairfield Hills.
Member, Fairfield Hills Authority
198 Hattertown Road, Newtown March 13, 2013