|Denver Children's Museum (Photo: Vergeront)|
Museum Examples: Children’s museums define their audience variously as: children birth to 12 years; children’s first decade; children 2 through 10 years and their families; and ages newborns through eleven years old, but designed to engage learners of all ages. Pittsburgh Children’s Museum has opened Museum Lab on its campus for youth 10+.
Madison Children's Museum (Photo: Vergeront)
Think About:• Who must your museum serve fully to advance its vision and mission?• What are capabilities and strengths of these children that inform your museum’s experience planning?
Museum Examples: The youngest of these emerging audiences are often served in a separate early years space while targeted experiences such as camps serve youth 13 and up. Explore & More offers sensory-friendly accommodations for children with special needs. Many museums have access programs that reduce barriers related to cost.Think About:• How does serving children in these groups help your museum accomplish its mission and vision?• In what ways is your museum welcoming and creates a sense of belonging for all children?
Museum Examples: A sampling of focus areas include: Everyday Science, Backyard Nature, Imagination and Inventing; the Arts and Sciences; and health and wellness and cultural connectedness
• What is your museum about? What are its primary areas of focus?• Why are these areas important to your museum’s purpose?
Museum Examples: The Amazeum focuses on: Land, industries, and people who built
Amazeum (Photo: Vergeront)
and sustain Arkansas culture. The DoSeum explores connections between STEM, Arts, and Literacy. Madison Children’s Museum explores arts, science, history, culture, health, and civic engagement.Think About:• What does your museum offer children and the community that is currently missing and valued?• What kind of a difference in the lives of children could you make?
Museum Examples: Across children’s museums, approaches often emphasize exploration, play, discovery, and learning. Many consider themselves to be child-centered, object-based, interactive, immersive, accessible, process-oriented, and/or community-focused. Approaches may play with novelty and surprise, focus on relationships, highlight beauty, prioritize local and sustainable materials, or incorporate making and co-creating with artists.Think About:• What is included in your museum’s experiential approach?• Which qualities play a more significant role?
|Minnesota Children's Museum|
Museum Examples: “Accessing the material world” not only reflects being object-centered, but also expanding access; encompassing small objects and large spaces; indoors and out, and placing objects in unusual contexts. “Nature” may cover nature play, natural materials, play as biomimicry, or art and nature.Think About:• How does your museum’s approach engage with the interests and salient characteristics of your audience?• How does your museum translate its approach into exhibit design and program development?
Museum Examples: Investing in its approach, might mean building internal capacity around play; increasing staff expertise on environmental education; working regularly with artists; and being guided by allies and advisors on cultures.Think About:• In what ways does your museum keep its distinctive approach front-and-center internally, among staff and with the board?• How is the approach reflected in your museum’s staffing, exhibit planning processes and design, program formats, staff interactions with visitors, graphics, etc.?
Museum Examples: Louisiana Children’s Museum’s popular early years gallery and programs are anchoring a multi-year initiative for parents and babies during the first 3 years of life supported by resources co-developed with university and community partners in child development and infant-toddler mental health.
Louisiana Children's Museum (Photo Credit: Vergeront)Think about:• What museum assets with connected purposes could work together more effectively by focusing them, investing in them, and building on them?• What large-scale project or set of initiatives might your museum develop or develop further?
Museum Examples: Stepping Stones Museum for Children’s ELLI preschool classrooms are grounded in a research-based early language and literacy framework and supported by the museum’s rich environments and professional development. Creativity in the Community is Providence Children’s Museum’s three-year state-wide initiative to connect all of the state’s children to its creative community.Think About:• In what ways could an emergent strategy link to children’s futures and community priorities?• Where can additional research and new partners direct and strengthen this strategy?
Museum Examples: Kidzeum worked with teachers, curriculum specialists and administrators in one school district to transform science learning outcomes for elementary students by developing curriculum and using the museum as science classrooms.Think About:• Where are opportunities for your museum to effect system-level change?• What resources does your museum have and will it need—partners, space, expertise—to create change?
Museum Examples: Discovery Museum’s long-time focus on environmental education was extended with development of Discovery Woods and expanded to become intentionally and visibly sustainable in its operations.
• What do your museum's community impact goals look like? • What is your museum’s theory of change that shows how the museum believes it can reach those goals?
Museum Examples: Boston Children’s Museum’s long-running Powering School Readiness starts with its Play Space early years exhibit. It includes Countdown to Kindergarten, the exhibit and guidebook, and web-based resources on executive function, language, and play.Think About:• What expertise, experience, and resources are critical for your museum to sustain and grow its strategy?• How can your museum hold itself accountable for these changes over time?
Museum Examples: The Utica Children’s Museum has merged with the ICAN Family Resource Center and will use trauma-informed approaches to design exhibits and develop programs to be a welcoming place for all children.Think About:• How does your museum demonstrate to the child, parents, staff, volunteers, trustees, supporters, and partners that it values the child’s capabilities such as creativity, caring, or agency?• In what additional ways can your museum demonstrate its values and priorities more obviously?
|Greentrike's Children's Museum at JBLM|
Photo Credit: Greentrike
Museum Examples: Through ACM’s Children’s Museum’s Research Network, children’s museums have researched play, learning, adults’ perceptions of learning, and social emotional behaviors in children’s museums. Denver Children’s Museum’s Play Institute includes multiple research partners. Bay Area Discovery Museum’s mission is to transform research into early learning experiences that inspire creative problem solving.Think About:• How does your museum stay current with research in areas of high relevance?• What are your museum’s compelling questions about children, their well-being and futures it can explore through research on its own and with partners?
Museum Examples: Many museums have produced publications on play, making, and kindergarten readiness. Parent resources on play can be found on Minnesota Children’s Museum’s website or blog and on the science of brain development on Boston Children’s Museum’s website.Think About:• How can your museum make the research-to-practice connection visible to help stakeholders better understand the critical importance of early childhood experiences for bright futures?• What if your museum’s annual report published what it had learned in the past year about supporting play and learning?