Heritage Museums & Gardens’ Newsletter

February 11, 2021

I am delighted to announce exciting news from Heritage: We are expanding The Hundred Acre School with the addition of two new classrooms! Starting this month, we are renovating existing space to expand The Hundred Acre School from serving students in pre-K and kindergarten to encompass students up through grade 2. Our two new classrooms will enable our first ever class of First Graders in the fall of 2021, and our first class of Second Graders in the fall of 2022. The expansion will also enable us to add a second kindergarten class in the fall of 2021. Interested? Enrollment is now open at: www.100acreschool.org

Since its opening seven years ago, The Hundred Acre School at Heritage Museums & Gardens has exceeded all expectations. On each measure of student achievement, enrollment, family satisfaction, innovative curriculum and contribution to the long term sustainability of Heritage, The Hundred Acre School has earned its place as a pace-setter and national model for early STEM education. As the first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pre-school to be opened on the grounds of a museum, it was the right school at the right time.

Today, the mission of The Hundred Acre School is to teach children in their pre-kindergarten and kindergarten years to wonder, play, question, explore, discover and learn together while developing the habits that assure superior success as engaged and productive citizens. The Hundred Acre School engages students in active learning using Heritage’s museum collections, physical facilities and 100-acre grounds. Vital to the school’s success is the use of the scientific method and design thinking to guide exploration and discovery.

Our school expansion project responds to strong community demand for high quality, outdoor-based, early childhood education. The project requires the renovation of the American Art and Carousel Gallery’s North Wing in compliance with state licensing requirements. Two new classrooms with windows overlooking the woods will be added, along with new restrooms, a director’s office, and storage space. The existing playground will be relocated to expand parking and a new ADA compliant pathway will provide an easy route from the classrooms to the Heritage grounds. A glass corridor facing the playground space will connect the current school with the new wing, allowing separation of the students and staff at the school from Heritage visitors enjoying the 1908 Looff carousel. Finally, a new vestibule will be added to the front of the current school to provide a weather buffer, and to offer a private space where students can be health-screened, as per Covid-19 guidelines.

Once the renovation is complete, slated for August 2021, the Looff Carousel will re-open to visitors, pending Massachusetts Stage 4 re-opening guidelines, allowing carousels, are in effect. Heritage’s permanent collection will be stored in the short term, ultimately moving to its new home in the Special Exhibitions Gallery, with new gallery space also planned.

There are many people who have made the great success of The Hundred Acre School possible: teachers, families, students, donors, friends, and Heritage Trustee and staff leadership who had the vision of utilizing the 100 acres and galleries at Heritage as a year-round classroom for the natural curiosity and wonder of young children. I would like to give thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Mass Cultural Council who gratefully assisted us with funding of the ADA compliant pathway and other construction costs. To be able to expand that wonder is another dream come true.

Expanded School Overview:

  • Grey: Public Museum space and the location of the Carousel.
  • Red, Green and Yellow: Existing wing of the school contains 3 classrooms. This will be K, 1st and 2nd grade.
  • Blue and Orange: New wing of the school contains 2 classrooms. This will be PreK.
  • Pink: This is the corridor connecting the school together. Some of this space is new and some is existing but once completed you won’t be able to tell new and existing.
  • Purple: There will be student bathrooms in each wing of the school.
  • Brown: School playground (including 2 outdoor classroom options) will be just over 9000 square feet.

Full-Day & Extended Day Options For All Grades