Visitor Center changes mark enhanced educational focus
November 1, 2012
A number of changes are currently underway in the Hunnewell Building Visitor Center, reflecting our ongoing aspiration to improve and enhance how visitors experience our historical landscape and renowned plant collections. As a public arboretum in the City of Boston and institutional partner in the educational mission of Harvard University, we are committed to engaging the public through meaningful interactions and learning opportunities that foster a greater appreciation of plants, science, and biodiversity.
In the coming months, new displays and increased exhibition space will enable us to share more about the plants, people, and stories that illuminate both the Arboretum’s place in history and its increasingly important role in contemporary science. Visitor Education staff will be developing more dynamic ways to share our seasonal highlights in the landscape, the breadth and research use of the living collection, and the rich information resources available through our Horticultural Library, Archives, and institutional publications. Highlighting new technologies, such as our mobile applications that pinpoint and detail each of the Arboretum’s more than 15,000 documented plants, offers visitors unprecedented access to our plants and their extensive documentation. In addition, a new schedule for the Visitor Center will increase our open hours during peak visitation periods, keeping the exhibition space and the restrooms open and accessible to the public to more closely match visitation patterns.
In order to facilitate these priorities, the Arboretum will be ceasing retail operations in the Visitor Center by the new year. With the rise of discount booksellers and online retailers, the Arboretum bookstore has operated for several years at a considerable loss. As an institution that operates solely on the return from endowments and the generosity of public support, we have decided to reallocate bookstore funding toward creative and innovative programming more consistent with our educational goals. The Visitor Center will continue to make postcards and maps of our landscape available by donation, and we plan to direct proceeds from these materials to benefit our children’s education programs for Boston Public Schools.
We hope you will visit us in coming months to enjoy the benefits of these advancements as they begin to take shape. In all respects, our efforts are directed at providing new ways to engage children and adults in the wonders of nature and the unique treasures of the Arnold Arboretum.