History of ACM

The history of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) started in 1962, when a small group of children’s museum leaders decided to begin gathering annually while attending the American Alliance of Museums’ annual meeting.

While the first children’s museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, was established in 1899, the field grew most prolifically during a 30-year period starting in the late 1970s.

The original group of children’s museum leaders became the American Association of Youth Museums (AAYM), an all-volunteer organization that grew along with the children’s museum field. As children’s museums opened around the world, AAYM was renamed the Association of Youth Museums (AYM), and later the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) in 2001.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the establishment of signature ACM offerings. ACM’s quarterly publication, Hand to Hand, launched in 1986, and the first InterActivity conference was held the next year. The organization soon became an incorporated nonprofit with an office, paid director, and staff. Over the years, ACM has developed initiatives, partnerships, publications, convenings, and more to support the children’s museum field.

Now celebrating our 60th Anniversary Year, ACM champions children’s museums worldwide, with more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries.