Hidden Hollow Nature Explore Classroom Opens!

By August 5, 2010November 22nd, 20118 Comments
by Val Khislavsky

Join us in celebrating the opening of Hidden Hollow, slated to be one of the first certified Nature Explore Classrooms in New England, at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, MA. Earlier this week, the JMMDS Team arrived onsite to celebrate the garden’s completion and watch its first visitors explore.

Watch as Julie introduces Hidden Hollow and all of the fun things children (and adults!) can do there.
Video: Val Khislavsky.

Hidden Hollow is a “dream project” for any landscape design team. When and where else can you start with a dry, under-used kettle hole and then be charged with thinking of ways to transform it into a space for building, splashing, playing, creating and performing? When else does your design challenge involve weaving in natural pinecone, acorn and mushroom motifs, both in plan view and in three dimensions? Hidden Hollow has been a great opportunity to create an inspired design for children and parents alike, and to work with a wonderful team in both the Heritage Staff and the contractors and artisans without whom the project would not have been possible.

The Hidden Hollow space before design and construction began.
Photo: Tobey Eugenio, Heritage Museums and Gardens.

Despite beginning our involvement with Hidden Hollow a mere 12 weeks before the space was scheduled to open, and thus, following a nontraditional design process to stick with the timeline, Hidden Hollow has come together and is ready to be enjoyed by the public. The video above and photos below offer a sneak peak of what you’ll find in the Hollow, and we hope you’ll have a chance to check it out for yourself this summer!

Hidden Hollow as viewed from the lookout above the dry waterfall. To the left is the mushroom fairy ring, the fort and block building areas, winding paths and climbing logs, and an in-process two-story tree house. To the right you’ll find edible high and low-bush blueberries, places to sit, and a gentle slope to roll down or relax on. Towards the back of the Hollow is n amphitheater and performance stage where you can play custom marimbas, dance, act, and more. Photo: Steve Jonas.

Members of the Hidden Hollow team, including Tom, Todd and Jimmy from E. Watson Construction, who built the boardwalk, stage, overlook, and sign board, JMMDS’ own Anna and Julie, Heather Mead, Chair of the Board Linda Calmes Jones, Tobey Eugenio, and Jeanie Gillis from Heritage Museums, Justin from Hoxie Landscape Services, Heritage Museums Board Member Jackie Lane, and Vermont artist Barre Pinske, who created the mushroom stools, acorn storage bins, discovery boxes, and more. The team effort made it all possible.
Photo: Judith Selleck, Director of Marketing, Heritage Museums and Gardens.

Block Building at Hidden Hollow. Photos: Steve Jonas.

L: The mushroom fairy ring; R: Hidden Hollow offers a range of options for solo and collaborative play.
Photos: Steve Jonas.

L: Pumping water in the splash space below the stone waterfall; R: Removing the lid from an acorn storage bin reveals a range of building options. Photos: Steve Jonas.

As part of the Hidden Hollow opening, we were treated to a performance by local children and Being:Art, makers of the marimbas found in Hidden Hollow. Photos: Steve Jonas.

There were even cookies to mirror the Hidden Hollow logo–YUM! Photo: Steve Jonas.

From left: Heather Mead, Director of Education, Val, Anna, Julie, and Tobey Eugenio, Environmental Education Specialist, stand in the threshold of the Hidden Hollow entry arch, designed and created by Vermont artist Barre Pinske. Heather and Tobey’s dedication and energy were instrumental in moving the Hidden Hollow project forward. Photo: Steve Jonas.

Hidden Hollow plan. Drawing: Anna Johansen.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • You were very fortunate to work on such a worthwhile project. Fun and educational for kids. Very creative solutions.

  • alla yanovsky tilton says:

    i wish our town had such a charming nature garden…

  • Laurie Danforth says:

    I can’t wait to visit your new woodland creation when I return to the Cape in two weeks. You are so right that creating spaces for outdoor exploration for children has to be a dream job. We need more of these spaces everywhere. Maybe there is one of those in the future of the Nature Museum…..Congratulations on having a great design team with fun-filled educational spirit!

  • Carol Wood says:

    What lucky children, to get to explore and play in such a place!

  • Great blog post and wonderful photos! The community involvement in creating this new space is truly inspiring. What a wonderful place Hidden Hollow has turned out to be! I look forward to visiting with both my children and my Girl Scout troop.

  • Jan Elliott says:

    I visited just a few days after opening and it’s a fantastic place. The high-quality xylophones in different tunings are especially wonderful.

  • Val says:

    The instruments were created by Being:Art. Check out their website for more.

  • Amanda says:

    My kids and I visited today and fell in love with it! It is magical, from the branching entrance to the enchanting decent to the cocoon-like hammocks suspended in the trees. It was clearly designed with a spectacular appreciation for scale, materials, community, and wonder. Thanks so much for creating this great place!