The nation's first interactive Museum of Teaching and Learning (MOTAL) is in desperate need of space, and operators are looking to Orange County to provide it.
Conceived in 2002 by former teacher and principal Greta Nagel, who is the nonprofit museum's curator and professor emeriti with the Department of Teacher Education at Cal State Long Beach, MOTAL presented "traveling exhibits" at the university in 2006 and 2007.
The first, "Horace Mann: Uncommon Visionary for the Common American," honored the congressman and "Father of American Public Education," who lived from 1796 to 1859 and promoted teacher reform and free, quality education for all. The second exhibit, "Maria Montessori: Honoring the Individual" focused on the achievements of the Italian physician, educator, philosopher and humanitarian in educating children with disabilities and low socioeconomic status.
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A new MOTAL exhibit on Mendez v. Westminster and school integration is scheduled to open next year at the Old Courthouse in Santa Ana, in collaboration with that museum, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton, Chapman University, Fullerton College, Orange County Department of Education and the Pacific Region of the National Archives.
Meanwhile, educational artifacts are temporarily stored in the Fullerton home of Nagel, the 63-year-old author of The Tao of Teaching, The Tao of Parenting and Effective Grouping for Literacy Instruction. A permanent home for storage, large exhibits and displays from the museum's permanent collection is "urgently needed," according to Crystal Wilmot of MOTAL's marketing department.
"The most preferable place would be in Orange County in an easily accessible first floor location with large windows and a parking lot," says Wilmot, adding it is hoped there will be enough room for a conference center, a research facility, a community center and an after-school program.
Donors are always being sought to help fund exhibits and make the museum's dream of a permanent home a reality. Erin Gruwell, the Long Beach teacher who inspired the movie Freedom Writers, has written a letter of support for Nagel's grand vision, which she laid out at a 2007 fund-raising dinner at Fullerton Arboretum that was attended by many of MOTAL's 200 volunteers.
Nagel dreams of a $300 million, national public museum located in Orange County funded by grants and contributions. "Nowhere in the United States does such a museum exist," she told the Orange County Register at the time.