ACM Executive Director Honored with AAM Advocacy Leadership Award

Arthur G. Affleck, III recognized for advocacy and leadership representing children’s museums and the museum field

ACM’s Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III with AAM’s Interim CEO/Chief of Staff Brooke Leonard and fellow honoree Brenda Granger, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Museums Association (OMA), at Museums Advocacy Day 2024. Photo by © AAM/Todd Buchanan 2024

ACM is pleased to share that the association’s executive director, Arthur G. Affleck, III, has been honored by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) with a 2024 Advocacy Leadership Award.

The award, which was presented during AAM’s Museums Advocacy Day on February 26, 2024, is presented annually to advocates who demonstrate exemplary leadership in their advocacy for the museum field.

“As Executive Director of ACM, Arthur brings a passion for education and equity as well as a proven record of accomplishment in the nonprofit sector,” says Brooke Leonard, Interim CEO/chief of staff at AAM, of the recognition. “Arthur’s commitment to elevating children’s museums and enriching the lives of children and families has led ACM to new levels of activity, visibility, and impact.”

Arthur joined ACM as Executive Director in January 2022, to lead the association which serves more than 470 members in 50 states and 11 countries. Under his vision and leadership, ACM has expanded programs, established new partnerships, and prioritized advocacy at all levels of government and across the museum field as critical for not only children’s museums, but for museums of all types. This work is guided by ACM’s new strategic plan, introduced in January 2023. The plan includes four aligned priorities which include elevating the children’s museum community, lifting up children and families, advancing the field through advocacy, policy, and research, and strengthening the organization. ACM’s participation in AAM’s annual Museums Advocacy Day, as well as the concentrated strategic initiatives, research, and professional development, reflect the importance of amplifying the field and championing issues that effect it.

Upon receiving the award, Arthur shared the recognition with the ACM Board of Directors, professional staff, and members of the field, and emphasized, “this award belongs not just to me, but to my colleagues at ACM and the countless individuals and organizations dedicated to advocating for museums and their essential role in our society so that we may all better support children and families.”

“This award belongs not just to me, but to my colleagues at ACM and the countless individuals and organizations dedicated to advocating for museums and their essential role in our society so that we may all better support children and families.”

Arthur Affleck, upon receiving the award, shared the recognition with the ACM Board of Directors, professional staff, and members of the field.

Meet the InterActivity 2024: Flourish! Opening Plenary Speakers!

ACM, together with our partnering host museum, Madison Children’s Museum, will convene children’s museums professionals across the world at InterActivity 2024: Flourish!, May 15-17.

A highlight of every InterActivity, the opening plenary session highlights a keynote presentation that leverages expert knowledge in a related field to address the issues and opportunities confronting children’s museums. This year, the opening plenary will feature three small talks speakers framing lively short presentations around the conference theme, highlighting the ways museums, communities, and the children we serve can flourish in an ever-changing world.


Lynda Barry
Cartoonist and Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity   

Drawbridge: Making Comics with Kids

How old do you have to be to make a bad drawing? Most people give up on being able to draw at about the age of eight or nine when they realize they can’t draw a nose or hands in a representational way. There is another kind of drawing that can leap right over this problem of good and bad, which can allow us to experience a way of making pictures that set the conditions for discovery and insight and can be used by anyone of any age. What might it be? Can drawing with kids bring mutual benefit?

Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher and found they are very much alike. The New York Times has described Barry as “among this country’s greatest conjoiners of words and images, known for plumbing all kinds of touchy subjects in cartoons, comic strips and novels, both graphic and illustrated.” She earned a degree from Evergreen State College during its early experimental period (1974-78), studying with painter and writing teacher
Marilyn Frasca. Frasca’s questions about the nature of images and the role they play in day-to-day living have guided Barry’s work ever since. In 1979 while pursuing a career as a painter, Barry began drawing a weekly comic strip incorporating stories considered to be incompatible with comics at the time. Stories, as Barry puts it, “that had a lot of trouble in them.” Widely credited with expanding the literary, thematic and emotional range of American comics, Barry’s seminal comic strip, Ernie Pook’s Comeek, ran in alternative newspapers across North America for thirty years


Richard J. Davidson, PhD
William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Founder & Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founder and Chief Visionary for Healthy Minds Innovations, Inc.  

The Science of Wellbeing: Teaching and Training for Healthy Minds, Brains, and Bodies

Just like being physically in shape means regular exercise, supporting one’s emotional well-being begins with a training program – for the mind. In this talk, world renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Richard J. Davidson discusses the scientific concept of neuroplasticity and how research in the lab confirms that well-being is a skill that can be taught. By learning and practicing the skills associated with awareness, connection, insight, and purpose – anyone can have a healthier mind, despite their external circumstances. Based on four decades of contemplative neuroscientific research, Dr. Davidson outlines a path to well-being for anyone in this highly relevant talk.

Davidson received his PhD from Harvard University in Psychology in 1976. Davidson’s research is broadly focused on the neural bases of emotion and emotional style and methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices. He has published over 573 articles, numerous chapters and reviews and edited 14 books. He is the author (with Sharon Begley) of “The Emotional Life of Your Brain” published in 2012 and co-author with Daniel Goleman of “Altered Traits” published in 2017. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2017 and appointed to the Governing Board of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) in 2018. In 2014, Davidson founded the non-profit, Healthy Minds Innovations, which translates science into tools to cultivate and measure well-being.


Charles Hua
Founder and Executive Director of PowerLines, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office, and Research Affiliate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

negative space
Discussing his climate journey—from first learning about climate change and the importance of taking initiative from his second teacher to launching a campaign for Madison Metropolitan School District to become the nation’s then-largest school district with a 100% renewable energy goal to now serving in the Biden-Harris Administration and advising on clean energy policy—Charles Hua will illustrate how the thoughtful mentorship and support he received along the way has shaped him into the person and leader he now aspires to be. 

Charles Hua is the Founder and Executive Director of PowerLines, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office, and Research Affiliate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, Charles advanced building electrification policy with Rewiring America. In college, Charles was appointed to serve on the Harvard Presidential Committee on Sustainability, where he helped develop and write Harvard’s sustainability plan and organized the inaugural Harvard Climate Summit. Charles has advised Fortune 500 companies and international NGOs on sustainability issues and serves on the Board of Directors for environmental nonprofits Slipstream, Energy News Network, and Clean Wisconsin. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Charles organized a campaign that successfully petitioned his school district to become the largest in the U.S. at the time with a 100% renewable energy commitment. For his work, Charles has been recognized by the White House as a 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar, by the Aspen Institute as a Future Climate Leader, and as an Energy News Network 40 Under 40 honoree. Charles holds an A.B. in Statistics and Mathematics from Harvard College.


Barry, Davidson, and Hua will present on Thursday, May 16 at the Opening Plenary session at InterActivity 2024. For more details about the entire conference, view the preliminary program. Registration is now open.

Nickelodeon Shares Community Resources: Talking to Kids about Difficult Current Events

It can be tough to discuss difficult topics with kids, but having candid conversations can help your child understand and cope with disturbing current events. ACM partnering organization Nickelodeon put together Nickelodeon’s Guide to Talking to Kids About Difficult Current Events. This guide was created to help parents, educators, and caregivers prepare for conversations with children about current events.

In addition, Nickelodeon recently shared the interview on CBS Mornings with Jamie Howard, PhD, Sr. Clinical Psychologist at Child Mind Institute, who shares age-appropriate tips for parents for navigating questions that kids may have about what is happening in Israel and in Gaza.


Traumatic and tragic events in the news can deeply affect the children and families the children’s museum field serves. As community resources and advocates for children, children’s museums can help build socioemotional supports for children and those who love and care for them.

Click here to access all the Trauma Resources curated by ACM >

Nickelodeon and ACM Partner for Return of Annual Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, September 30

Nickelodeon today announced the return of its global Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) campaign, in partnership with the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM).  Worldwide Day of Play will take place Sept. 30, 2023. Part of Nickelodeon’s Our World, a brand-new global initiative, with the goal of inspiring kids and helping to provide them with tools to strengthen their individual and collective agency. To date, events are planned by children’s museums and other organizations across the U.S., the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and more.

Through Worldwide Day of Play, Nickelodeon has fueled a generation who values playing and being active,” said Jean Margaret Smith, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Nickelodeon. “The Association of Children’s Museums is the perfect partner to help us mark the return of this beloved annual event as an anchor program for the Our World initiative, allowing us to showcase the importance of play and the role it can play in building confidence and helping to upskill kids around the globe.”

“Play is a powerful experience that enriches people’s lives in museums, schools, homes, and beyond,” states Arthur G. Affleck, III, executive director of the Association of Children’s Museums. “ACM is pleased to partner with Nickelodeon to amplify the importance of play on wellbeing and healthy brain development, and to make learning more effective and joyful for children and adults. As children’s museums, we believe in the power of play and we strive to nurture more play and playful learning to enrich the lives of children everywhere.”

The Association of Children’s Museums, an Our World coalition member, is partnering with Nickelodeon to bring Worldwide Day of Play activations to affiliates around the globe on September 30th, reaching more than 1.8 million kids and caregivers. Museums participating in Worldwide Day of Play have the opportunity to feature custom Nickelodeon activities that help highlight the importance and transformative power of active play.  Participating ACM locations will also feature a varied array of activities, including Mess Fest! at Sacramento Children’s Museum, Play Fair! at Children’s Museum Curacao, Toys and Games from Franklin’s Early Days at the Franklin Area Historical Society (OH), and Slime Time at the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum (FL). Families can check www.childrensmuseums.org/dayofplay/ for information on activities going on in their city, town or area.

In addition to partnering with ACM to host grassroots events globally, Nickelodeon will begin rolling out messaging encouraging kids and families to get up and get active this Worldwide Day of Play (Sept. 30) across its linear, social and digital platforms Thursday, Sept. 29. Kids and families can also visit www.childrensmuseums.org/dayofplay to get tips on ways to celebrate play and access toolkits to help plan their own WWDoP activities.  Additionally, Nickelodeon has teamed up with Our World partner Aspen Institute to create the “Worldwide Day of Play Playbook” that amplifies youth voices and demonstrates how play can be a powerful tool in skill building. 

Worldwide Day of Play is part of Nickelodeon’s global Our World initiative and is centered in the brand’s longstanding commitment to promoting active play and healthy lifestyles. Since its 2004 inception, thousands of WWDoP events have been held across the U.S., and in Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, Germany, Italy, Russia and more. Additionally, more than $3 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded to national and local organizations to promote active play.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

ACM is the foremost professional society supporting children’s museums in developing rich environments that stimulate children’s natural playfulness, curiosity, and creativity. With more than 470 members in all 50 states and in 16 countries, ACM champions children’s museums and together enrich the lives of children worldwide. As a global leader, advocate, and resource for the field, ACM and our member organizations strive to build a better world for children and serve over 30 million visitors annually. Started in 1962, ACM recently marked its 60th year of impactful service to children, families, and children’s museums.”

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 44th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location-based experiences, publishing and feature films. For more information or artwork, visit www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon is a part of Paramount’s (Nasdaq: PARA, PARAA) global portfolio of multimedia entertainment brands.

###

ACM Information Brief on the Power of Play

Download Report

 

Play is a powerful experience that enriches people’s lives in museums, schools, homes, and beyond. In this latest ACM Informational Brief, The power of play in children’s museums and elsewhere, play is explained through the research-based benefits of play to children’s discovery, health and wellness, and agency, as well as through the crucial role children’s museums play in cultivating and providing access to play.

Although the benefits of play can occur in many different types of environments, children’s museums offer particularly valuable contexts for play.

Play is vital for children, young people, and adults as well. Children’s museums have vast experience in creating playful learning experiences that are age-appropriate, hands on, interactive, and joyful. Even beyond their walls, museums form partnerships and build capacity to encourage more playful learning experiences in schools, homes, parks, hospitals, airports, malls, and beyond. Children’s museums provide examples of the many ways parents, caregivers, and educators can use play to facilitate wellbeing, healthy brain development, and to make learning more effective and joyful for everyone. As children’s museums, we believe in the power of play and we strive to nurture more play and playful learning everywhere we go.

 


Paper commissioned by ACM | Written by KT Todd, Director of Learning and Research, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Children’s Museums are Growing Intellectually and Emotionally: An Article by The New York Times, In Collaboration with the Association of Children’s Museums

The Association of Children’s Museums recently worked with The New York Times on an article highlighting the advancements and importance of children’s museums in the United States! The article dives into the history and evolution of children’s museums with ACM Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III and discusses the work of various children’s museums across the country, highlighting the story of Fort Lauderdale High School sophomore, Connor Carey, and the impact the Museum of Discovery and Science has had on his self-confidence and social skills. You can read the full article in The New York Times here: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/27/arts/design/childrens-museums.html?fbclid=IwAR0doOhSwOhOwxBebj6FCjxEXQG9Lw4rdTywF-zxOLxYi6vQLydA0bhlzAY

ACM Announces New Strategic Plan

DEAI and environmental resilience and regeneration will guide new and ongoing goals and objectives for the leading children’s museum association

Arlington, Va.—The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM), the world’s foremost professional society supporting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums, and those who work at and otherwise sustain them, is pleased to announce its new five-year (2023-2028) strategic plan. Approved unanimously by the association’s board of directors, the plan was developed with a robust background review of ACM, informed by ACM community engagement, and guided by international arts and culture consulting firm, Lord Cultural Resources.

With the new plan comes revised mission and vision statements to better encapsulate ACM’s new strategic directions and to articulate the aspirational priorities, goals and objectives of the organization.

Mission: We champion children’s museums and together enrich the lives of children worldwide.

Vision: A world that prioritizes the rights of all children to playful learning and a healthy, safe, and equitable future.

“The importance of children’s museums for our communities cannot be understated,” emphasizes ACM Board President and Executive Director of Explora (Albuquerque, NM), Joe Hastings. “The ACM strategic plan creates a roadmap for implementation of new directions and priorities and for highlighting the impact of children’s museums worldwide. The intentional addition of a priority focused on supporting children and families is meant to emphasize ACM’s commitment to strengthening community.”

At its core, ACM’s strategic plan for its future has four inter-related priorities:

1 – Elevating the children’s museum community.
2 – Lifting up children and families.
3 – Advancing the field through advocacy, policy, and research.
4 – Strengthening the organization.

All the work in every priority will be evaluated through the two overarching lenses of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI), and environmental resiliency and regeneration.

“Revisiting and re-envisioning ACM’s strategic direction is integral to ensuring that our values align with the current and future needs of the field and our intention to do more to lift up children and families.” shares Arthur G, Affleck, III, Executive Director of ACM. “Now more than ever do children and families need quality and dependable places to experience hands-on, interactive, and playful learning experiences and exhibits to further their growth, development, and well-being. By sharing this strategic plan, ACM reaffirms our commitment to supporting the children’s museum field and the children and families that we support together.”

The association’s professional staff now turns to phase three of the plan: implementation, where ACM staff will further develop these priorities with actionable tasks. This includes strategic actions aimed to provide more resources, professional development, networking opportunities, and meaningful benefits to ACM members, as well as meaningful and intentional partnerships and collaborations—domestic and international.

ACM plans to share more about this important work at its annual conference InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice hosted by the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans, April 26-28.

###