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July 15, 2020 / News & Blog
Children’s museums’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic was swift and responsible: to close their doors as soon as the threat posed to public health became clear. By March 19, all U.S. children’s museums and most around the world closed the doors to their physical facilities for the health and wellbeing of their visitors and staff. But their work did not stop. Indeed, children’s museums—known for their dedication to materials-based, hands-on learning and exploration—pivoted to provide these experiences in new and innovative ways.
More than one hundred days since the closing of the field’s physical facilities, policymakers are establishing reopening plans for a variety of public facilities. How children’s museums are considered in these plans varies widely across jurisdictions. In some, they are included in early phases of reopening, and in others, they’re very last. This variation and lack of clarity in local mandates has created an ambiguous and difficult operational landscape for children’s museums to chart out viable strategies for delivering on their missions to engage children and families in child-centered learning experiences.
Every children’s museum draws from professional practice, core values, and operational assets to define its own destiny in the face of the ongoing catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether that means working toward a physical reopening of their facilities for visitors, or committing to an extended physical closure, children’s museums are making informed decisions to ensure their own survival and, most importantly, to continue to serve their communities across the Four Dimensions of Children’s Museum Operations.
As every children’s museum makes its own decision to work toward physical reopening, or commits to an extended physical closure, it faces unique challenges depending on its location, government mandates, and operational history. Even still, children’s museums around the world are united in their commitment to the safety of children, and our shared vision of a world that honors all children and respects the diverse ways in which they learn and develop.
Help your local children’s museum continue to play its vital role in your community as an educational laboratory, community resource, and advocate by pledging your support today.
This document shares strategies that children’s museums are pursuing, not only to survive, but to continue to fulfill their missions in support of children and families. It provides field-wide messaging for children’s museums’ communications with the public and stakeholders. Questions? We’re here to help. Contact ACM@ChildrensMuseums.org.