Advertise - -->Subscribe Online --> - -->Manage Subscription --> - Contact Us - Online Edition - Business Directory - Web Cams  

New Director Wants To Capture Cape Cod’s Essence At Museum

Posted in: Mashpee News, Top Stories
Dec 5, 2008 - 11:45:26 AM
Digg this story!

Printer friendly page

MASHPEE- Two years ago, when Barbara Cotton of Mashpee was a member of the Cape Cod Children’s Museum’s board of directors, she attended a Mashpee Chamber of Commerce event at which the museum was the featured nonprofit organization.
“The question I kept getting was, ‘We really have a children’s museum on Cape Cod?’ ” she said.
Now, as the museum’s executive director, Ms. Cotton has made it her mission to make sure no one ever asks that question again.
“We’re doing a really good job of getting the word out that we’re not just a rainy-day activity,” she said. “People really fall in love with the place and want to see it flourish and grow…the people who get involved with the museum adopt it and stay involved, and we need more of those.”
Barbara Cotton of Mashpee is all aboard as the new executive director of the Cape Cod Children’s Museum. The museum, which will feature its train display on its float in both the Mashpee and Falmouth Christmas Parades, is in the middle of its annual appeal to raise money for programs and capital projects. MICHAEL BAILEY/ENTERPRISE
Ms. Cotton herself is an example of that. The former English teacher first got involved as a patron about six years ago after bringing two of her children—son Christian and daughter Caitlin—to the museum. She later joined the Friends of the Cape Cod Children’s Museum, the organization’s volunteer support group, at one point serving as chairman. She then spent three years on the board of directors.
She was appointed this summer to fill the executive director position and officially began her new duties September 1.
The position had been vacant for about two years, “but this place really runs itself,” Ms. Cotton said, and she credited the museum’s 17 part-time paid staff members and a roster of 40 volunteers with keeping things running smoothly. “The staff here is amazing.”
Ms. Cotton is also part time, “and that has everything to do with the economy,” she said. The museum derives its income from membership fees, admission, museum rentals for private events such as birthday parties, grants, corporate sponsorships, and private donations.
Although keeping the revenue flowing is a priority, Ms. Cotton said she wants to explore ways to make the museum better and more reflective of its Cape Cod home, thus more appealing to year-round and seasonal residents alike.
During scouting visits to other children’s museums across Massachusetts, Ms. Cotton said she was never struck by how much better or worse a given location was, but rather by how unique they all were. Motivated by that discovery, Ms. Cotton said she wants to punch up the local flavor “and have something here that really captures the essence of Cape Cod.”
Along the way, she is hoping to spruce up the museum’s home on Great Neck Road South in Mashpee, to make it more inviting to new visitors. “The aesthetics here aren’t ideal,” she said.
 The museum called the Falmouth Mall home from its creation in 1992 until 2000, when it moved into its current home, formerly the Jubilee Christian Fellowship Church. “We still have the tin roof and the plastic stained glass windows…it’s off-putting for someone just driving by.”
However, Ms. Cotton said any changes would ultimately be dictated by the wants and needs of the museum’s patrons, both old and young. Ms. Cotton is using her own children as a gauge of what appeals to different age levels; her youngest child, 2-year-old Caroline, and 6-year-old Caitlin are very happy with the museum’s offerings, but she said Christian, now 8, is at the age where young patrons start to lose interest.
“One of my goals is to make the museum more accessible to older kids,” she said, adding that Christian is unlikely to forego the museum entirely as he’s already expressed an interest in one day running the museum’s planetarium exhibit “and Caitlin wants to run the gift shop…I’m growing future employees.”
Ms. Cotton’s husband, John, a sales rep with Oce-USA Inc. in Waltham, a document printing systems company, also helps out at the museum as a volunteer. “It’s a family effort,” she said.
For more information on the Cape Cod Children’s Museum, visit the official website at or call 508-539-8788.