Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston
The Mary Baker Eddy Library is a lending library and museum as well as the repository for the papers of Mary Baker Eddy, an influential American author, teacher, and religious leader who founded Christian Science. It is located on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts and housed in a portion of the eleven-story structure originally built for The Christian Science Publishing Society, part of the Christian Science Center complex. While the Library is the official repository for the previously unpublished letters and manuscripts of Mary Baker Eddy, it also includes exhibits as well as the Mapparium, a three-story stained-glass globe that allows the viewer to stand inside the world map of 1935.
The Publishing Society building is one of several structures on the Christian Science Plaza. The Plaza was expanded in the 1970s with a design by Araldo A. Cossutta, Architect-in-Charge, for I. M. Pei & Partners and Araldo Cossutta, Associated Architects. The original works for the Plaza include: a 28-story Church Administration building; the Sunday School, the shape of which reflects the dome of The Mother Church extension; a 525 ft-long Colonnade building featuring solid sunshade columns; an 80 ft-diameter fountain that sprays water as high as 40 ft into the air; and a 98- by 686 ft reflecting pool, which is almost twice as long and two-thirds as wide as a standard football field.
The Publishing Society building, created of limestone and granite, was designed by Chester Lindsay Churchill. It originally housed all publishing-related activities of the Church, including massive printing presses and bindery equipment. Engravings on the exterior include the words Purity and Mercy (facing Massachusetts Avenue), Peace and Faith (facing The Mother Church extension), and Hope and Love (facing Clearway Street), as well as verses from the Bible.
The Mapparium is a three-story, stained-glass globe that is one of the key attractions at the library. Visitors walk through the globe via a thirty-foot glass bridge from which they can stand in the middle of the world. Standing in the center of the bridge, a person can see the entire globe with absolutely zero distortion. This perspective offers immediate, if unexpected, insights from the whimsical (two different islands named 'Cocos' are located at exactly opposite positions on the globe) to the overwhelming (how much of the world is covered by water).
The Mapparium's other notable feature was actually completely unintentional: its spherical shape and glass construction create multiple unique acoustic effects. Standing in the center of the globe, one can hear their voice in surround sound, as thought they were speaking into their own ears. At either end of the bridge, visitors can also whisper from one doorway and be heard perfectly from the opposite side... 30 feet away.
Since the Mapparium was built in 1935, none of the 608 glass panels have been updated. Visitors to the Mapparium will immediately notice that Africa is still a patchwork of colonies and the USSR towers overhead. In 2002, however, LED lights were installed around the globe and, together with an original composition of words and music, highlight these and other major changes over the last seventy five years.
For more information on the Mapparium, visit The Mary Baker Eddy Library's website.
Hall of Ideas
The Hall of Ideas, located on the first floor of the library is used for talks, musical performances, and dramatic presentations for the public. An original work of art created by acclaimed glass sculptor Howard Ben Tré serves as the centerpiece of this grand hall. The cast glass and bronze sculpture acts as a fountain of constantly changing quotations from some of history's most influential thinkers.
In a collaboration with media designer David Small, a graduate of the MIT Media Lab, state-of-the-art computer programming is used to project words and ideas throughout the Hall of Ideas. The quotes bubble up from the center of the basin of water in the fountain, flow around the rim toward observers, and finally overflow onto the floor and up the walls onto scrims.
This new permanent exhibit offers a rare view of the changing and sometimes unpredictable newspaper coverage Mary Baker Eddy faced while gaining national fame and prominence as a publisher, preacher, writer, teacher, public speaker, and healer. The exhibit also highlights the motivations behind the global newspaper Eddy started at the age of 87, The Christian Science Monitor.
The Quest Gallery
The exhibit includes photographs, documents, and images related to the medical, cultural, and religious history of mid 19th-century America.
Research and Reference Areas
The research room has original papers and letters about the history of Christian Science for the public to explore. Every year thousands of people from around the world call with questions about the contents of the research material. The public is also able to call or e-mail with research questions and the service is free of charge.