The Riverside School’s annual Spring Field Trip was a flurry of activity commencing with a visit to the Minuteman National Park in Lexington on the first day and ending with a tour of Walden Pond in Concord on the third. The middle portion of the trip was spent as an all day trek through Boston beginning with a tour of the Mapparium at The Mary Eddy Baker Library. The school extends many thanks to the Burklyn Arts Council for funding this memorable component of the field trip.
“The Mapparium was conceived by the architect of the Christian Science Publishing Society building, Chester Lindsay Churchill, as a symbol for the global outreach of The Christian Science Monitor. Mary Eddy Baker founded the Monitor in 1908 and gave it the mission “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” The Mapparium was three years in the making (1932-1935). Originally, Churchill designed the glass panels to be replaceable as the political boundaries of the world changed. There have been several points in the Mapparium’s history where the discussion of updating the map did arise. The final time was in the 1960s, when it was finally decided that the Mapparium was a priceless work of art and history, and so should never be updated.”
A piece of art, it certainly was! The students were awestruck by the unique beauty of the stained glass, as well as its bold testimony to geopolitical changes that have occurred in the 90 years since its installation. Probably the most startling and eerily entertaining was the acoustics. “Because the Mapparium is a sphere, the shape of the Mapparium creates unusual sound effects. When people are speaking near the center of the room, their voices are much louder than usual. This is because the curved glass walls do not absorb the sound waves produced by the voice, but reflect them back.” Upon entry, the participants were instructed not to yell and to be conscious of ones volume. Amazingly, the conversations at the other end of the bridge were as clear as if the speakers were standing next to you. This coupled with the brilliant colors and delicate nature of the structure The Riverside students were introduced to a learning experience like no other and one that will be impossible to forget!