A relatively recent event made me appreciate the place the Museum of Science has in the hearts and minds of the people of Boston. As many of you know, Leonard Nimoy passed away not all that long ago.
I am a big fan of his Dr. Spock role from Star Trek dating as far back as 1966 when, as a kid in Virginia, I first heard him declare “Live Long and Prosper” while I attempted unsuccessfully to manipulate my fingers into the Vulcan salute of friendship. I still can’t really do it right. Many of you likely know that Leonard “grew up three blocks from here” in Boston. It’s a phrase that comes to mind to just about everyone who has ever seen the introductory segment in the Mugar Omni Theater here at the Museum.
What I never fully appreciated was how thoroughly etched into guests’ minds Leonard’s voice had become over the more than quarter century it played in our IMAX Theater. Many guests even remembered its first incarnation as the voice for our New England Time Capsule. It debuted in 1987, and when it became dated, we felt it was best to retire it for good, but that only lasted a short time due to consistent requests that we replay it from time-to-time.
Even with all this, we were amazed at the outpouring of messages and appreciations that came our way with his passing. Many people contacted us and fondly remembered him as the friendly and playful ‘bomp shu bomp’ voice in Omni. Here are just a few of the messages we received and sent on Facebook and twitter.
Members of the television and print press also descended on the Museum to get my thoughts on Leonard’s passing and on the Museum’s plan for the future. For the record, we plan to continue to let Mr. Nimoy remind guests that he “grew up three blocks from here.” It seems a fitting place to memorialize his memory. Where else but in a really big movie theater can audiences be transported so completely to other worlds and experiences?
Perhaps other museums and theaters can take away some inspiration from our relationship with Nimoy. Leonard Nimoy was a special case, no doubt, but having an inspirational life and career identified with your place is ideal. It's best if there’s a natural fit to the relationship such as a birthplace or childhood home, or perhaps your destination is the favorite location of a certain celebrity. You can’t invent these associations, but you can nurture them and build on them when you find them. Leonard did all the heavy lifting for us with his positive on-screen presence and off-screen humility. Who knows who we will work with in the future (maybe Matt Damon or Ben Affleck will want to visit home for a collaboration?), but Nimoy certainly leaves big shoes to fill. Nimoy loved where he grew up, and people who visit here love hearing his iconic voice as they wait in anticipation for the show to begin.
Submitted by Robin Doty, Manager, Mugar Omni Theater & 4D Theater at the Museum of Science, Boston