Readers Write: Arlene Travis also science ed champion


I am writing regarding the sad news of the passing of Arlene Travis.

Your article in the Aug. 4 Manhasset Times highlighted many of her accomplishments but failed to mention that Arlene was actively involved in promoting science education for young children.

In fact, she helped establish the North Shore Junior Science Museum that is now known as the Science Museum of Long Island.

The SMLI is currently located on Leeds Pond Preserve in Plandome Manor, formerly the Herman Goldman estate.

At the time of its founding, the museum lacked a permanent home and adequate funding to support its educational activities.

Arlene Travis played a pivotal role in obtaining the needed financial reserves to bring this Museum to the reality that exists today. The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum of Long Island, of which I am a member, is grateful to Arlene Travis for laying the foundations of today’s Science Museum of Long Island.

In 1962, just after the launching of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik, a small advertisement appeared in a local north shore newspaper that read, “Anyone interested in organizing a Hands-On Science Museum on Long Island is invited to the home of Doris Leonard.”

Arlene Travis was one of those people who responded to the call.

She strongly agreed with the need for improved early science education and was willing to volunteer her time and energy to achieving that goal.

Doris Leonard described Arlene Travis and the other volunteers as “an interesting, talented, creative, and devoted group of problem solvers” who could handle anything.

Arlene Travis, then a resident of Port Washington, and Carole Aronson, a resident of Great Neck, spearheaded the fund raising efforts for the North Shore Junior Science Museum.

They organized “Designer Showcases” in local North Shore mansions.

Interior designers, including famous designers such as New York’s Mario Buatta, were recruited to decorate rooms in the mansions.

The events raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Museum. Aronson and Travis soon formed an independent company, dubbing it Mansions & Millionaires.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Arlene Travis last fall. We discussed the current status of the Science Museum of Long Island and its many educational programs.

At the time, I was in the midst of writing the story of the Science Museum of Long Island and needed some information about the early days of the Museum and its founders. Arlene was able to provide me with this and with many valuable insights into fund raising. I also met her husband Larry and son Peter, a high school science teacher who Arlene proudly told me got his start in science at Science Museum of Long Island.

I thank Arlene for her generosity and regret her untimely passing.

Corinne A. Michels

Distinguished Professor Emerita

Queens College of CUNY


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