The Library’s role in a new design
During the 2021 Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, given online, the Christian Science Board of Directors reported on the redesigned first floor of the Christian Science Publishing House. How was The Mary Baker Eddy Library involved in this project?
A new vision: “How Do You See the World?”
When the Library opened in 2002, its footprint encompassed the first floor of the Publishing House (as well as part of the second floor, which included the “Quest Gallery”—an exhibit on Mary Baker Eddy and her discovery, Christian Science). Maintaining tours of the historic Mapparium™, a 30-foot, stained-glass globe, was also part of the Library’s responsibility. A short video about Mrs. Eddy was played on a continuous loop.
The Library’s role in introducing Mary Baker Eddy to the public had shown how valuable the first-floor space could be. But after years of service, the exhibit areas needed a fresh expression.
About five years ago, plans began taking shape to identify the first floor as a welcome center for the entire 14-acre Christian Science Plaza. This vision expanded on the earlier use of the first floor as a Library space, creating a new experience that would represent The Mother Church and The Christian Science Publishing Society holistically.
The heart of this renewed space expands on the Mapparium’s representation of the world, to help visitors to feel hope for our world, as well as to face its challenges. This is expressed through the use of interactive exhibits, with content sourced from The Christian Science Monitor and religious periodicals, as well as the Library’s archives, explaining the biblical basis of Mrs. Eddy’s discovery and sharing the contemporary relevance of Christian Science. The “How Do You See the World?” experience is intended to touch the hearts of visitors and awaken a natural desire to help the whole human family—through being, knowing, and doing good, and discerning the same capacity in others. Christian Science presents God, who is divine Love, as foundational to this desire. In that spirit, people of all backgrounds are welcomed as essential participants.
“Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy”
This part of the “How Do You See the World?” experience includes insight on Mary Baker Eddy and her discovery of Christian Science. Interactive elements help to tell her story. Artifacts and panels give additional context, bringing to life her inspired process of scriptural study and research. Progressing through this section, visitors have the opportunity to explore stories of healing through prayer and watch a short film on Mrs. Eddy’s life. Exhibit cases feature objects, books, and documents from the Library’s collections.
The Library’s new spaces
Visitors encounter The Mary Baker Eddy Library in the atrium facing Massachusetts Avenue. This is the Library’s “front door.” It features an interactive touchtable, with a series of virtual galleries that explore pathways into the Library’s collections. Themes include the life and times of Mary Baker Eddy, the building of the Christian Science Plaza, the early years of The Christian Science Monitor, humanitarian work in the Christian Science movement, and historic Bibles. There is also a reading area with samples of the Library’s reference book collection. The first floor offers a classroom space for multiple uses, including the Library’s future offering of programs for adults and children.
Many other opportunities await visitors on the fourth floor. In addition to housing the Library offices, there is a spacious public research room for viewing temporary exhibits, learning about our extensive collections, browsing, and conducting research. Library staff members welcome visitors.
The Library’s contribution
How has the Library participated in this new vision? Staff members pored over the archives, including historical records of The Mother Church and the Publishing Society, finding and recommending objects, images, books, documents, and stories for the new exhibits. They reviewed and fact-checked the content written for the new exhibits. And they supplied hundreds of scanned documents, images, and artifacts from our collections, as part of the work for these new spaces. In addition to collaborating with other departments, we truly enjoyed our work with the design firm Luci Creative and the media creators Winikur Productions, as they shaped this content, translating the vision set out by the Christian Science Board of Directors into the experiences described above.
“How Do You See the World?” opened to the public in early August. The Library’s Research Room will reopen later this year.