I’m late posting today because I spent most of the day in a car — the part when I wasn’t in Cooperstown with Sasha (10) at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sasha is an avid Yankee fan as well as baseball player and has read a great deal about baseball history. He was quivering with excitement at getting to visit the Hall. He was, though, also tired, and so we were only there for a couple of hours — which meant we rushed through many parts. He liked some more than others — seemed more drawn to exhibits with films or other things he could watch than to objects — but as we went through the exhibits I suddenly realized the special value of places like the Hall: Sasha was getting to experience what Marina and I get out of going to museums. When we take the boys we find activities and interesting bits for them, but really we are the ones eager to go. Here was a case where the museum itself was devoted to a passion of Sasha’s. So he was getting a first taste of what a museum can offer.
In a sense, the Hall was like a middle grade nonfiction book — it teaches by beginning with an area of interest the reader/visitor already has. And what it is teaching is not just about the Babe, or Hank Aaron or women in baseball, or the origins of the game; no. The Hall is also teaching what it is to go to a museum — what museums can offer. It is giving young people the experience of going through halls and eagerly seeing what treasure comes next. I am sure that if we had gone to Canton for the Football HOF, or to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll we would have had similar experiences. These are training sessions in being a museum-goer, as well as visits to the great personalitites and records of baseball.
We will certainly go back.