Inside Longyear: A Place to Learn Mary Baker Eddy's Story
Mary Baker Eddy: A Spiritual Journey – C. S. Harding Mott II Gallery
The C. S. Harding Mott II Gallery forms the heart of the Museum’s exhibits that examine the history and lifework of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Entitled "Mary Baker Eddy: A Spiritual Journey," this permanent exhibit traces the major events of Mrs. Eddy's life, from her girlhood in rural New Hampshire to her establishment of the Church of Christ, Scientist. Her remarkable life history is illuminated by exhibits designed to appeal to visitors across a wide range of backgrounds and interests.
Mary Baker Eddy: Discoverer, Founder, Leader of Christian Science
Around the perimeter surrounding the gallery's core, photographs, documents and artifacts from Longyear's collection present a timeline of key events in the life of Mary Baker Eddy. But as we came to realize, artifacts and things were not going to be the focus of this exhibit. At the heart of the exhibit would be her discovery of Christian Science and how she sought to share that discovery with the world. As it developed, the exhibit relies heavily on Mrs. Eddy's own words, according to Director/Curator Stephen Howard: "Her words open windows onto her own estimate of her lifework, the challenges she faced, and most important, on her discovery and founding of Christian Science."
Audio guide: Each item tells a story
A hand-held audio guide with earphones furnishes more information than could easily fit on exhibit labels or captions. Like a knowledgeable companion, the audio guide points out historic highlights. For example, there is the modest hand-written document being studied by the visitor in the above photo. These unremarkable-looking two pages, one learns from the audio guide, are a copy, made in 1875, of what is perhaps the earliest formal document concerning the beginnings of the Church of Christ, Scientist. In it several of Mrs. Eddy's students pledge their support for her to conduct Sunday Church services. The humble pieces of paper are evidence that worship and church were part of Mrs. Eddy's vision, right from the early days of the movement.
A work in progress: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
On display in this gallery are many of the hundreds of editions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures published during Mrs. Eddy's lifetime. The progressive revisions she made to these editions show her persistent effort to make the underlying ideas clear to the reader. Most editions (printings) had only minor editorial changes. Eight particular editions of the Christian Science textbook were major revisions that included new material, omission of other material, changes of wording and capitalization, and rearrangement of chapter sequence. Even what may appear to be a minor change, such as adding line numbers on each page in 1902, tells us something about Mrs. Eddy’s expectation that her book was not just to be read, but to be studied as a textbook.
Interactive computer stations: Exploring Mrs. Eddy’s revisions
Two computer stations offer an interactive program entitled “Exploring Mary Baker Eddy’s Revisions of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” These touch-screen stations trace, step by step, how selected passages evolved through eight major revisions of Science and Health, a labor that spanned nearly four decades from 1875 to 1910. For example, the opening lines of the first edition in 1875 read: “Leaning on the sustaining Infinite with loving trust, the trials of to-day are brief, and to-morrow is big with blessings.” By the 276th edition in 1903, this sentence had become: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
At the exhibit's core: What is God?
The core of the Mott Gallery exhibit is a contemplative rotunda that lets the visitor examine the seven synonyms Mrs. Eddy attributed to God. This resting place in the exhibit, rough-hewn from the granite of Mrs. Eddy’s native state of New Hampshire, is surrounded by a circle of seven panels. On each panel, continually changing quotations from Mrs. Eddy’s writings focus on the seven synonymous terms with which she defines God. Andy Anway, whose company, Amaze Design Inc., designed the permanent exhibits, explained: “This was, after all, an exhibition of ideas….[Mary Baker Eddy’s] words are the artifacts of her life and are the treasure she has left behind for us to share. Through these words we are able to know her, to be recipients of her tireless generosity, and to gain insight, Christian Scientist or no, into our own understanding of our relationship with spirituality – with God.”
The Bakers of Bow: Alice M. and Albert W. Patzlaff Gallery
The Patzlaff Gallery draws on Longyear’s unique and extensive collection of documents and artifacts relating to Mary Baker Eddy’s family, the Bakers of Bow and Sanbornton, New Hampshire. Baker family letters are realistically reenacted in recorded audio presentations that bring Mrs. Eddy’s childhood and family to life for listeners – like the rapt member of a visiting Girl Scout troop, above. Hearing the Baker family’s words as they share their everyday feelings and concerns for each other and their hopes for the future, enables the visitor to experience firsthand the humor and genuine affection that characterized Mary Baker’s growing-up years.
Pioneer portraits: Longyear Portrait Gallery
The Longyear Portrait Gallery displays changing selections from the Museum’s collection of portraits of early Christian Scientists. The majority of these portraits were commissioned by the Museum’s founder, Mary Beecher Longyear. Each face has a story to tell and is a reminder of the courage, devotion, and spiritual fortitude of Mrs. Eddy and her students and followers. The Longyear Gallery also serves as an auditorium for public events, such as illustrated talks and presentations, concerts, and films on Christian Science history.
Researching the collection: Daycroft School Foundation Library
On the Museum’s second floor, the Daycroft Library offers over a thousand titles that help the interested reader or the in-depth researcher get a better understanding of Mary Baker Eddy, her work and the time in which she lived. The research library includes biographies of Mrs. Eddy, her published writings, reminiscences of her students and other early Christian Scientists, bound volumes of the Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal, histories and periodicals about New England and the communities in which Mrs. Eddy lived, Bible translations and reference materials, histories of Christianity and biographies of religious reformers, and children’s books related to Christian Science and its Discoverer.
The vault: Preserving Christian Science history
Limited-access, climate-controlled vaults preserve the Museum's collection of 33,000 books and periodicals; 8,200 photos, prints, and framed portraits and other works of art; 164 scrapbooks and albums; and 1,200 historic objects. All historic materials received by the Museum are catalogued, cleaned, and stored in this stable environment. Many items document the steadfast perseverance required of Mrs. Eddy and the early Christian Scientists to establish Christian Science. Director/Curator Steve Howard comments: "Sometimes people look back to the time of Mrs. Eddy and her students and believe it was a golden age when the practice of Christian Science was somehow easier. The historical record challenges that view and shows that success for the early workers came with dedication, self-denial, and plain hard work."
Hospitality: Heimer Garden Room and Atrium
Visitors can stop for snacks and refreshments in the Colanthe Coggins and Fred A. Heimer Garden Room on the first floor. The glass-enclosed room opens onto a courtyard, where in the warmer months umbrella-covered tables offer a peaceful place to relax and chat. On the second floor above the Garden Room, the Harry and Margaret Lombard Heimer Atrium offers an intimate, comfortable setting for the use of staff and Museum members.
Introduction to Mrs. Eddy: Carolyn Cobb Theater
In the 25-seat screening room, made possible by students of Carolyn Cobb, C. S. B., visitors may start their tour with a 12-minute film: "An Introduction to Mary Baker Eddy." Other presentations about Mrs. Eddy's life and work may also be viewed in the theater. Among them is the 35-minute film titled "Remember the Days of Old" about Longyear’s work to preserve the history of the early days of Christian Science and its collection of historic houses. Films like the 90-minute documentary "Who Shall Be Called?" about Mrs. Eddy's Pleasant View years may be screened by advance request. All three films were produced by Longyear Museum.
Take-away: Books, art, mementos, gifts
The Museum Store offers gifts and publications inspired by the Museum collections and mission. A shopper will find an intriguing selection of books, audio books, videos, music CDs, cards, prints, and crafts – as well as books, toys and other gifts for children. These are also available through the Museum catalog and its on-line store on this website.
A warm welcome: Wingaway Foyer
Each visitor receives a warm welcome in the lobby named for "Wingaway," the beloved Cape Cod summer home of John and Marion "Heidi" Holbrook. Heidi was a longtime trustee of the Museum. Panels in the wall approaching the main exhibit are engraved with names of principal benefactors to the Museum. The Museum itself is a testament to its many supporters who recognize the importance of preserving Christian Science history and making Mary Baker Eddy's story better known and understood.