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.

ACM Trends #6.3 Understanding Museums’ Collaboration Goals

Download ACM Trends #6.3

Data for this report was collected through a Spring 2023 ACM member survey on collaborations. The dataset contains information from 59 member institutions. Previous pandemic-era survey data on collaborations conducted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic supported instrument sevelopment. This research was supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services

Children’s museums are part of an ecosystem of community services designed to enrich children’s lives through the provision of informal learning experiences. That ecosystem functions best when the various institutions comprising it are working together, sharing their resources and capabilities to more effectively connect with and serve their audiences.

We saw evidence of this during the height of the pandemic. As reported in Trends Report #4.8, #4.10, and #4.11, children’s museums adapted to the constraints imposed by COVID-19 by forging partnerships with new collaborators and expanding existing collaborations. The public health crisis inspired children’s museums to join forces with an incredibly diverse array of community organizations, including formal educational institutions and health and social service providers. These collaborations led not only to new
programs, but also to broader conceptions of community service and fresh insights into how children’s museums can deliver on their mission.

This edition of the ACM Trends series provides an update on our pandemic-era research. As of Spring 2023, 95% of children’s museums have re-opened their doors, and to understand how this transition is impacting their collaborative work, we administered a survey focused explicitly on this topic. Fifty-nine ACM members completed this survey. Their responses indicate that the resumption of in-person activities has not diminished children’s museums’ eagerness for collaborating with partners across a wide range of service vectors. Moreover, just as was true at COVID-19’s peak, programs focused on health and wellbeing remain a core part of their collaborative efforts.

The survey also offered insights into the goals children’s museums are pursuing through collaboration. Though varying considerably, museums’ collaborative goals are connected to three broadly shared aims: (1) healing; (2) learning; (3) community. In what follows, we discuss how these findings can help children’s museums understand, approach, and evaluate collaborative work. Our hope is that sharing this information will not only stimulate dialogue around collaboration and partnership, but also help children’s museum leaders plan new collaborative programs and begin the process of building relationships with new partners.

Read the full ACM Trends #6.3 report >

ACM Information Brief on the Power of Play

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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

Young V&A Showcases how Children’s Museums are Growing Quickly Across the Globe

With approximately 40 emerging museum ACM Members, we are thrilled to see more intentional and meaningful spaces for children’s museums coming together across the globe!

This week, ACM Executive Director Arthur Affleck represents the association at the Grand Opening of Young V&A in Bethnal Green, London. After seven intensive years of dedicated planning and design, the free, national museum will showcase the power of creativity in children’s lives as they build new skills and develop the creative confidence needed to thrive in our fast-changing world.

Photo: © David Parry/ V&A

Co-designed with children, Young V&A demonstrates what it means to be a children’s museum by serving as a local destination that encourages positive child development and adult/child interactions through naturalistic and child-centered learning.

Emerging museums are an important part of the children’s museum community. Representing those institutions that are not-yet-opened, emerging museums bring new vision, new perspectives, ideas, and talents.

In recent years, many of our emerging museums represent the international growth of children’s museums. We are pleased to have welcomed attendees from across the globe at our recent InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice conference in New Orleans. This included attendees from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Israel, Germany, Curaçao, China, and Poland, as well as the U.K.

“Children’s museums are the fastest growing sector of the museum community because there is an increased recognition of the power of the hands-on, interactive, and playful learning exhibits and experiences they provide…

We have found children’s museums and targeted programming serving as extension of the home and school environments. This ‘third space’ allows for stronger communities, safe spaces for growth and discovery, and a world of opportunity.”

– ACM Executive Director, Arthur G. Affleck, III via The Financial Times

ACM Trends #6.2 The ACM Data Hub: Understanding National Averages

Download ACM Trends #6.2

Data for this report was drawn from publicly available IRS Form 990s posted on Candid and the ProPublica nonprofit look-up tools. Supplemental data was collected through the Spring 2022 ACM member survey.

Since 2019, ACM and Knology have been working to create a data-based resource geared toward helping children’s museums learn about emerging trends across the field. The result of our efforts is the ACM Trends Data Hub—an online portal that visualizes trends in museum attendance, income, expenses, and staffing from 2016 to the present. Created with data from ACM member surveys and the publicly available US tax Form 990s that all US non-profits are required to complete every year, the Data Hub displays individual museum information that can be filtered by size, ACM member level, US region, and by city and state. As a management tool, the Data Hub allows children’s museums to monitor their performance across the aforementioned indicators, and to compare this to other institutions and sector-wide trends. Though at present the Data Hub only features US-based museums, the ACM Trends team will aim to incorporate data from museums outside the US in the future.

To facilitate the Data Hub’s use, this ACM Trends Report highlights one of its most important features: the use of median values to express sector-wide trends. Whenever highlighting sectoral averages in attendance, income, expenses, or staffing, the Data Hub uses median values. This is because medians are often preferrable to other ways of computing averages (like the statistical mean or mode) when it comes to museum data.

In this report, we explain why medians are so often the best way of identifying trends and tendencies for museums. Using examples from our research, we illustrate how museum data is often distorted by statistical outliers that make mean values less representative of the tendencies that most museums might see. This is the reason that medians offer a more accurate reflection of what a “typical” children’s museum should expect in their context.

By understanding what median values suggest, children’s museums will be better positioned to use the Data Hub to understand their financial positions, to support accountability to their funders based on industry norms in comparison to local conditions, and to assess performance compared to their peers.

Read the full ACM Trends #6.2 report >

ACM Information Brief on Mental Health

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Mental health is important.

Children’s museums have long been invested in creating environments where children thrive. Mental health is a pressing current issue for the children in our communities, and children’s museums have expansive opportunity to meet those needs with comprehensive, collaborative experiences that supplement the essential work of mental health professionals—providing all children with the skills to navigate their world with joy, wonder, and wellness.

ACM’s latest information brief The role of children’s museums in supporting children’s mental health, provides an overview of some primary research trends about children’s mental health and then shares insights about how children’s museums—community-serving organizations that reach millions of U.S. children each year—can bolster children’s mental health.


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

Empowering the Next Generation of Climate Innovators

Children’s museums are constantly responding to the current needs of the children and families in their communities, from health to academics to social issues, as seen in their exhibits, outreach, and programming. Children’s museums also fulfill their roles as responsive, audience-focused institutions by striving to reflect and address community needs through the experiences they create.

While ACM and the children’s museum community cannot eliminate all the threats to children’s health, safety and well-being, the organization is committed to using its playful learning approach, and its advocacy, programming, and community partnerships to address these problems proactively and with a sense of urgency.

Recently ACM’s Executive Director, Arthur G. Affleck III participated in a special roundtable discussion hosted by the National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C. Joined by Ginger Zee, Chief Meteorologist and Managing Editor Climate Unit at ABC News, and Kim Noble, Senior Advisor for Environmental Education at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Arthur explore the topic of Climate Action Heroes: Empowering Future Climate InnovatorsThe full roundtable discussion can be viewed here.

Moderated by Crystal Bowyer, President & CEO of National Children’s Museum, central themes from the panel focused on climate and humanity, easing climate anxiety, partnerships, and the power of play.

Children, as the most vulnerable group affected by climate change, also hold the greatest potential as agents of change and resilience. To nurture the next generation of climate innovators, it is crucial to instill a love for nature and science through play-based, interactive learning, emphasizing hope rather than fear. It is the shared duty of public and private sectors to forge partnerships that promote awareness and inspire action in this endeavor.

Some key panel takeaways:

“This isn’t about science, it is not about statistics, it is not about how high the water level was… it’s about the humanity of the people … that’s what we can give children.  Not just the education and the information but where and how do I take action with whatever I have in front of us?”

Ginger Zee

“We can talk to children in a way that doesn’t come from a place of fear but a place of possibility. We can confront climate change and talk to our kids in a way that teaches them about creativity, innovation, resilience. We can teach them what it means to imagine a world with a planet with clean air, clean water, for everyone. That learning can come from a place of growth.”

Kim Noble

“The reason why play is so important is that you want the lesson to stick, you want children to want to know more about it. If you make it fun, if you make it interesting, if you make it interactive, and iterative, and joyful: they are likely to get the lesson. We use play-based approaches to teach about climate and so many other concepts.”

Arthur Affleck

Climate Action Heroes is part of the National Children’s Museum innovative educational programming. More information may be found at the NCM website.

Association of Children’s Museum welcomes five new board members and announces new roles for its governing board

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 name its 2023 Board of Directors. Voted as a slate by the association’s membership, ACM first announced the Board at its annual conference, InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice, hosted April 26–28 in New Orleans.

Newly joining the ACM Board as At-Large Members for three-year terms are:

Rongedzayi Fambasayi, Managing Director, Play Africa Johannesburg

Gretchen Kerr, Chief Operating Officer, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Brindha Muniappan, PhD, Senior Director of the Museum Experience, Discovery Museum (Acton, MA)

Hilary Van Alsburg, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Tucson

Stephen White, Esq., Chief Strategy Officer, Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development, Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (Columbus, OH)

Joe Cox, President & CEO at Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was named President Elect for the 2023–2024 term, and will serve as Board President for the 2024–2026 term.

New officers and committee chairs will join ACM President Joe Hastings of Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Past President Tanya Durand of Greentrike in Tacoma, Washington. They include:

• Vice President Crystal Bowyer, President & CEO, National Children’s Museum

• Secretary Putter Bert, President & CEO, KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Bellevue, WA)

• Treasurer and Finance Chair Felipe Peña III, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Brownsville

• Governance & Nominating Chair Tifferney White, Chief Executive Officer, Louisiana Children’s Museum

• Strategic Initiatives Chair Dené Mosier, President & CEO, Kansas Children’s Discovery Cent

“The ACM Board of Directors represents the ACM membership as leaders in the children’s museum field,” said ACM Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III. “The governing body will oversee the association as we implement our newly shared five-year strategic plan. We are appreciative to this important group of volunteers whose willingness to share their expertise and enthusiasm with ACM will help us better serve children, their families, and the community.”

The plan has four inter-related priorities: elevating the children’s museum community; lifting up children and families; advancing the field through advocacy, policy, and research; and 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.

More about the ACM Board leadership:

New Board President Elect:
Joe Cox has served as the President and CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since February 2018. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum connects more than 450,000 visitors to inspiring science annually. He has worked in the museum field for more than 20 years having previously served as the President of the EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature in Worcester, Massachusetts (2012–2018) and as Founding Executive Director of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Florida (2004–2012) where he led a campaign to raise more than $25million to build the Museum. Joe has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from St. Mary’s University in London with a focus on environmental law and paleoquaternary biogeography and completed his Masters in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. Joe was the recipient of a Smithsonian Fellowship in Museum Practice based at the National Zoo and National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. He completed the Getty Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Joe is past Chair of the Florida Association of Museums Foundation.

New At-Large Board Members:

Rongedzayi Fambasayi is a children’s rights lawyer who since August 2022 has been Managing Director at Play Africa Children’s Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a passionate champion of children’s rights, the power of cities to support children’s rights, including the right to play. He is also an external expert on children and climate change with the African Union’s Children’s Committee. After attending the University of Zimbabwe for undergrad, Rongedzayi obtained his Master’s in Law and finalising a PhD Law and Development both from North-West University (Noordwes-Universiteit).

Gretchen Kerr became Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus in July 2010 after serving as the Vice President of Development. Leading all facets of museum operations, including the museum’s DEAI initiatives, and continuing to play a key role in organizational fundraising efforts, Gretchen helped lead the museum’s $16.1 million expansion campaign in 2015. Before joining the museum, she worked for the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross. She is a member of the Association Alliance of Museum’s 2023 Executive Committee for their Annual Meeting, serves on the Advisory Committee for the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Customer Service Program, is a graduate of Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Denver. Gretchen graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S in Kinesiology. 

Brindha Muniappan’s passion for science communication led her from the research bench into the field of informal science education. Since joining Discovery Museum in 2019, she has helped expand the organization’s diversity, equity, access, and inclusion initiatives to connect with more underserved and marginalized children and is committed to sharing Discovery Museum’s efforts widely. Before joining the Discovery Museum, Brindha led the Education and Public Programs team at the MIT Museum and was part of the Current Science and Technology team at the Museum of Science, Boston. Brindha earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and Ph.D. in biological engineering from MIT. 

Hilary Van Alsburg became the Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Tucson and its satellite location inside a nature park after a varied career in law and the non-profit sector in Tucson—to include experience as an entrepreneur, school teacher, and time at the University of Arizona.

Stephen White, Esq. is the Chief Strategy Officer, and serves as In-House Counsel at the Center for Science and Industry (COSI), the number one science center in the nation by USA Today.  During his career, he founded the theory of Servant Learning as an engagement strategy to help bridge the “COVID Canyon” education gap with the philosophy to inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more.  In his role at COSI, he is oversees the development of optimizing the entrepreneurial business model for the organization, building new models of impactful education programming, creating and implementing a global strategy for public partnerships at the city, state, and federal levels, and leading the execution of COSI’s Strategic Plan. As a first generation student, Mr. White earned three degrees, all from The Ohio State University, including his B.A. in English and Political Science, J.D. from the OSU Moritz College of Law, and his M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the OSU John Glenn College of Public Affairs, and extended his learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the OSU Moritz College of Law covering nonprofit law and leadership, as well as several state and federal boards including as Co-Chair of the International Space Station Subcommittee on Education. 

A complete list of the ACM Board of Directors can be found on the ACM website.

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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

Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Named “Great Friend to Kids”; to present at InterActivity 2023

Honor awarded during the Association of Children’s Museums InterActivity 2023 conference

ARLINGTON, Va (3/27/23)—The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) is thrilled to recognize and celebrate Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, as the recipient of the 2023 ACM Great Friend to Kids Award. The award will be presented on Friday, April 28, during ACM’s conference InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice, hosted this year in partnership with the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek will present to InterActivity attendees as well.

“ACM honors Dr. Hirsh-Pasek as our 2023 Great Friend to Kids recipient for her significant and impactful contributions to early language and literacy, social-emotional development, as well as the role of play in learning,” shares ACM’s Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III. “Dr. Hirsh-Pasek’s work not only helps champion the work of children’s museums, but guides it.”

Dr. Hirsh-Pasek is the Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in Psychology at Temple University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is best known as a translational researcher, who uses the latest findings in the science of learning to enhance education in and out of school. Kathy pioneered global initiatives, together with long-term collaborator, Roberta Golinkoff, like Playful Learning Landscapes and was on the founding committee of the Latin American School for Educational and Cognitive Neuroscience. She also co-founded the Learning Science Exchange that brings together leaders from various sectors including policy, science, entertainment, journalism, and social entrepreneurship to help parents and families thrive. She is the author of sixteen books and hundreds of publications, has won numerous awards in her field, and was inducted into the National Academy of Education. Vested in translating science for lay and professional audiences, her Becoming Brilliant, released in 2016, was on the New York Times Best Seller List in Education. Her most recent book, Making Schools Work, was released in October 2022.

Initiated in 1991, the ACM Great Friend to Kids Award recognizes individuals and institutions that have made a national or international impact on the lives of children. Previous recipients include Fred Rogers, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Marian Wright Edleman, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Erikson Institute, Sesame Workshop, Reggio Children, Eric Carle, Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone®, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, Temple Grandin, and most recently, PBS KIDS.

ACM’s annual InterActivity conference is the largest gathering of children’s museum professionals in the world. Gathering in New Orleans, April 26-28, hundreds of children’s museum leaders, staff, and stakeholders will gather to explore this year’s theme, Leveraging Our Voice, share knowledge, and advocate for the children’s museum field.

To cover ACM’s InterActivity conference, contact Gabrielle Gallagher at 703.224.3100 x102.

Dr. Calvin Mackie Announced as Keynote Presenter at Association of Children’s Museums InterActivity 2023

STEM-NOLA founder and entrepreneur to present Today’s Tinkers are Tomorrow’s Inventors to hundreds of children’s museum professionals

ARLINGTON, Va (3/27/23)—The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) is delighted to announce Dr. Calvin Mackie as presenting keynote speaker at the association’s annual conference InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice,hosted this year in partnership with the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

“Dr. Calvin Mackie is dedicated to serving as a champion for children and their families and recognizes the important contributions of children’s museums to the world,” shares ACM’s Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III. “InterActivity attendees will be both inspired and supported in their work as Dr. Mackie speaks on building future leaders through perseverance.” 

Dr. Calvin Mackie is an award-winning mentor, inventor, author, former engineering professor, internationally renowned speaker, and successful entrepreneur. In 2013, Dr. Mackie founded STEM NOLA, a non-profit organization created to expose, inspire, and engage communities in the opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). To date, STEM NOLA has engaged over 125,000 K-12 students in hands-on project-based STEM activities. In 2021, he launched STEM Global Action to advance K-12 STEM education across the U.S. and the world.

A lifelong resident of New Orleans, Dr. Mackie graduated from high school with low test scores requiring him to take special remedial classes at Morehouse College. In 1990, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Morehouse College with a B.S. degree, as a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. Simultaneously, he was awarded a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, where he subsequently earned his Master’s and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1996. In 2003, he was awarded the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in a White House ceremony. Dr. Mackie is the author of two award-winning books: A View from the Roof: Lessons for Life and Business and Grandma’s Hands: Cherished Moments of Faith and Wisdom.

Dr. Calvin’s keynote address, Today’s Tinkers are Tomorrow’s Inventors, will be presented at the InterActivity conference’s opening plenary session on April 27, 2023. ACM’s annual InterActivity conference is the largest gathering of children’s museum professionals in the world. Gathering in New Orleans, April 26-28, hundreds of children’s museum leaders, staff, and stakeholders will gather to explore this year’s theme, Leveraging Our Voice, share knowledge, and advocate for the children’s museum field.

To cover ACM’s InterActivity conference, contact Gabrielle Gallagher at 703.224.3100 x102.

ACM Anniversary Blog

On March 1st, the Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) celebrated its 60th anniversary with a reception in Washington, D.C. Held at the Washington Plaza, the event followed Museums Advocacy Day and the ACM board meeting. Guests included member museums, allied associations, public sector collaborators, strategic partners, vendors, and sponsors, as well as current and former board, staff, and donors.

In addition to celebrating the association’s impressive legacy, programs, and membership; the event showcased the commemorative special edition Hand to Hand, edited by Mary Maher, and highlighted the organization’s new 2023–2028 Strategic Plan. On stage, ACM board chair Joe Hastings (Explora, NM) and ACM Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III welcomed distinguished speakers: 

• American Alliance for Museums President and CEO Laura Lott, 

• Boston Children’s Museum CEO Carole Charnow,

• Institute of Museum and Library Services Deputy Director Laura Huerta Migus, and

• Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Crosby Kemper.

ACM notable programs such as Museums for All, Trends Reports, CCLI and year-round Professional Development programs were celebrated on stage and touching and informative remarks from Charnow, recounted the genesis of ACM and the strong link between these organizations. The progenitor to ACM was started at an AAM Annual Meeting in 1962, by BCM’s former leader, Mike Spock and others. A transcript of Charnow’s remarks can be found here.

The event also celebrated Affleck’s first year as Executive Director and welcomed back former ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus with a warm embrace.  The heartful milestone honored the impressive work ACM’s members and all those that support children’s museums field.

Festivities for the anniversary celebrations will conclude on April 27, 2023 at the MarketPlace at the ACM InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice conference hosted in partnership with the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans.   

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.

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Museums for All Initiative Reaches 1,000 Participating Museums

Collaborative museum access program has served more than five million visitors

ARLINGTON, VA (November 3, 2022) – The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) are pleased to announce that the Museums for All initiative has reached a milestone of 1,000 participating museums. An initiative IMLS, a federal agency based in Washington, DC, and administered by ACM, Museums for All is a national, branded access program that encourages individuals of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong learning experiences and museum going habits.

Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission to now more than 1,000 museums representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, simply by presenting their SNAP EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer) card. Since the launch of the initiative in 2014, more than five million visitors have utilized the program benefits.

“The experience of visiting a museum leaves a lasting impact especially on young people,” reflects Arthur Affleck, III, Executive Director for ACM. “At ACM, we are proud to serve children and their families by connecting them with enriching experiences. That is why we are particularly proud of our work connecting museums of all types to underserved communities through Museums for All. Participating museums report that the initiative has improved their institutions for the better, making them more inclusive and accessible.”

With a year-round open-door policy, Museums for All invites visitors facing economic challenges to feel welcome at cultural institutions. It is open to participation by any type of museum — including art, history, natural history/anthropology, and general museums, children’s museums, science centers, planetariums, nature centers, historic houses/sites, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and arboretums.

“Museums for All is the remarkable success story of creating an affordable and welcoming program for all American families to enter the world of imagination, fun, and knowledge represented by America’s extraordinary museum world,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “The 1,000 members represent millions of American children and their parents.”

Museums for All is the only nationally coordinated financial accessibility program in the museum field, providing an easy-to-implement structure and the ability for participating museums to customize their implementation. Find a participating museum near you or browse our full list of participating museums.

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About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With nearly 500 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Children’s Museum Leaders Play the Long Game at InterActivity 2022

WHAT 

The Association of Children’s Museums will convene hundreds of leaders from children’s museums and supporting organizations to share knowledge and advocate for the field during its annual InterActivity conference, returning to an in-person convening for the first time since 2019. Hosted by The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum at St. Louis Union Station Hotel from May 16-18, InterActivity 2022: PLAY The Long Game will explore ways that children’s museums can adapt to today’s dynamics while simultaneously preparing for the future to remain viable and relevant for generations to come.

WHEN 

May 16–18, 2022

WHERE 

St. Louis Union Station Hotel
St. Louis, MO 63103

All programming will be held at St. Louis Union Station Hotel unless otherwise noted.

WHY 

The InterActivity conference brings the industry together in support of ACM’s mission to champion children’s museums worldwide. Started in 1962, ACM is a professional member organization for the children’s museum field now celebrating its 60th Anniversary Year. ACM member museums and professionals are dedicated to early childhood play, and play-based learning, the starting point in the continuum of lifelong learning.

HOW 

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is the signature sponsor of InterActivity 2022: PLAY The Long Game. Major sponsors of this year’s conference are Bill and Sally Canfield and Blackbaud.

CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS 

Monday, May 16 & Tuesday, May 17
ACM MarketPlace – May 16, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. and May 17, 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. CDT: InterActivity’s signature expo hall shares the latest in products and services supporting the children’s museum field. More than 60 exhibitors share inspiring ideas, creative products, and ready-to-rent exhibitions.

Tuesday, May 17
Plenary and Keynote – Maxine Clark, 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. CDT: Maxine Clark is the founder and former chief executive of Build-A-Bear Workshop®. In her keynote address, Maxine Clark will share insights on how children’s museums can plan and evolve in strategic and heartfelt ways to meet the needs of their audiences, drawing on her unique background in entertainment, education, and merchandising.

Wednesday, May 18
Plenary and ACM Great Friend to Kids Award, 9:00 a.m.–10:15 a.m. CDT: ACM presents its 2022 Great Friends to Kids Award to PBS KIDS for its outstanding impact on the lives of children, building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination, and curiosity. The award will be accepted by David Lowenstein, Senior Director of Ready to Learn at PBS KIDS. The ACM Great Friend to Kids Award is presented annually at InterActivity and honors those who have made significant contributions to strengthen education and advance the interests of children.

MEDIA CONTACT 

Reporters interested in covering the conference should contact Alison Howard at Alison.Howard[at]ChildrensMuseums.org.

ABOUT ACM
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.ChildrensMuseums.org.

PBS KIDS Named “Great Friend to Kids”

–Honor awarded during the Association of Children’s Museums’ annual InterActivity Conference–

ARLINGTON, VA (May 5, 2022)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is thrilled to announce PBS KIDS as the recipient of the 2022 ACM Great Friend to Kids Award. The award will be accepted by David Lowenstein, Senior Director of Ready To Learn at PBS KIDS, on Wednesday, May 18, during ACM’s InterActivity 2022 conference in St. Louis, MO.

“ACM is proud to honor PBS KIDS as our 2022 ACM Great Friend to Kids Award recipient for its outstanding impact on the lives of children, building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination, and curiosity,” said ACM Executive Director Arthur Affleck. “By involving parents, teachers, caregivers, and communities as learning partners, PBS KIDS helps to empower children for success in school, work and life.”

Lowenstein manages the Ready To Learn Initiative for PBS KIDS, leading a cross-disciplinary team, in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), responsible for the research, development, and distribution of educational media and resources for young children and their families. He is a regular speaker on the role of public media in improving early learning outcomes and community-based initiatives.

Since 1991, the ACM Great Friends to Kids Award has been presented annually at the InterActivity conference and honors those who have made significant contributions to strengthen education and advance the interests of children. Recent recipients include Temple Grandin, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, The Junior League, and Geoffrey Canada.

Returning for the first time in person in three years, InterActivity 2022 will be hosted by The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum in St. Louis, MO from May 16-18. Hundreds of children’s museum leaders, staff, and stakeholders will gather to explore this year’s theme, PLAY The Long Game, share knowledge, and advocate for the children’s museum field.

To cover ACM’s InterActivity conference, contact Alison Howard at 703.224.3100 x102.

About ACM

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.ChildrensMuseums.org.

About PBS KIDS 

PBS KIDS believes the world is full of possibilities, and so is every child. As the number one educational media brand for kids, PBS KIDS helps children ages 2-8 learn lessons that last a lifetime. Through media and community-based programs, PBS KIDS wants children to see themselves uniquely reflected and celebrated in lovable, diverse characters who serve as positive role models, and to explore their feelings and discover new adventures along the way. Families can stream PBS KIDS for free anytime, no subscription required. A large collection of mobile apps and pbskids.org provide accessible content that spark kids’ curiosity. PBS KIDS and local stations across the country support the entire ecosystem in which children learn and grow – including their teachers and caregivers, parents, and community – providing resources accessible anytime and anywhere. For more information, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

ACM Partners with HHS’s We Can Do This Campaign

ARLINGTON, VA (March 22, 2022): Today, the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) announced its partnership with We Can Do This, the COVID-19 public education campaign of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

An international membership organization with 470 members in all 50 states and 16 countries, ACM will collaborate with children’s museums and related organizations across the U.S. to share critical information about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children.

“As the foremost professional society advocating on behalf of children’s museums, we are committed to the health and wellbeing of children and families,” said Arthur Affleck, Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums. “We are excited by this opportunity to partner with the Department of Health and Human Services to support children’s museums across the U.S. in sharing critical information with parents and caregivers about vaccine availability for young children.”

As part of this partnership, ACM will share HHS resources with museums across the United States, and will also support programs, events, and exhibits in children’s museums to build broader vaccine confidence. ACM will also create and disseminate a four-panel exhibit sharing critical information about vaccines with parents and caregivers, available for free to museums to download and print. For more information about these resources and potential funding opportunities for museums, visit www.ChildrensMuseums.org/covid-19.

About ACM
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Association of Children’s Museums Names Arthur Affleck New Executive Director

January 12, 2022 (ARLINGTON, VA)—The Board of Directors of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) today announced Arthur Affleck as Executive Director, starting January 31, 2022. Following an extensive executive search, the Board unanimously selected Affleck to lead ACM, the world’s foremost professional society supporting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums, with more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries.

“We are thrilled to announce Arthur Affleck as ACM’s new leader,” said Tanya Durand, President, ACM Board of Directors, and Executive Director at Children’s Museum of Tacoma, powered by Greentrike. “ACM’s growth and development under the leadership of Laura Huerta Migus offers Arthur and the Board a wonderful foundation upon which we will build the next phase of ACM’s service to the children’s museum field and to families worldwide. Arthur brings to us impressive resource development experience, museum field savvy, and has a solid reputation as a connector and a doer. We look forward to working with him to set the most exciting vision for ACM yet.”

With considerable experience in nonprofit work and higher education, Affleck most recently served as Executive Vice President at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), where he led an array of AAM programs and services, including membership, development, and meetings and events.

“Arthur’s vision, leadership, and many contributions to the museum field as part of AAM’s leadership team for the past five years has prepared him well for this new role,” said Laura Lott, President, AAM. “ACM and its members will grow and thrive thanks to Arthur’s dedication and talent. I could not be more pleased by his appointment.”

During his tenure at AAM, Affleck helped to secure seven-figure foundation grants to support the Alliance’s ground-breaking Facing Change—Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion Initiative. He worked to advance DEAI efforts and financial sustainability for both the Alliance and museum field, as well as to expand museums’ growing role in the Pre-K-12 education ecosystem.

“I am excited by the opportunity to serve as Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums and to lead the effort to champion children’s museums worldwide,” said Affleck. “At this moment in our history, we need museums more than ever—especially children’s museums. In partnership with the board and staff, we will continue to support our members and advance the field in ways that are responsive, innovative, and impactful.”

Announcing the 2021 ACM Board of Directors Election Results

Association of Children’s Museums Announces New Roles for 2021 Term

ARLINGTON, VA (October 5, 2021)—Today, the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) announced the results of its 2021 Board of Directors Election.

Joe Hastings, Executive Director of Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was elected President Elect for the 2021-2022 term, and will serve as Board President for the 2022-2024 term.

Said Hastings, “Children’s museums are so important—now more than ever—in terms of bringing children, families, and communities together. I’m excited, proud, and honored to have the opportunity to help ACM champion children, families, and the museums that serve them.”

New officers will join ACM President Tanya Durand of Greentrike and Past President Michael Yankovich of the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. They include Tifferney White of Discovery Place (Vice President – Governance), Joseph Cox of the Museum of Discovery and Science and Dené Mosier of Kansas Children’s Discovery Center (Vice Presidents – Initiatives), and Putter Bert of KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Secretary). Stephanie Terry of Louis J. Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville was re-elected as Treasurer.

Newly joining the Board as At-Large Members for three-year terms are Crystal Bowyer of National Children’s Museum, Atiba Edwards of Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Melissa Kaiser of DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, and Felipe Peña III of Children’s Museum of Brownsville. Joanna Haas of Kentucky Science Center, Lara Litchfield-Kimber of Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, and Carol Tang, PhD of Children’s Creativity Museum, were re-elected as At-Large Members.

Leaving the Board after years of valued service are Susan Garrard of Mississippi Children’s Museum, Jennifer Farrington of Chicago Children’s Museum, Juan Carlos Novoa of Museo Tin Marín, and Mort Sajadian, PhD, of Amazement Square.

“The ACM Board of Directors represents the children’s museum field in service of our vision of a world that honors all children,” said ACM Interim Executive Director Larry Hoffer. “We’re so proud to partner with these individuals as ACM pursues our work to champion children’s museums worldwide, and we’re tremendously grateful for their willingness to share their expertise and enthusiasm with ACM and the field at large.”

New Board President Elect:
Joe Hastings, Executive Director, Explora (Albuquerque, NM)
Joe Hastings has been the Executive Director of Explora, a hands-on learning center in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2012. Explora is creating a cradle through career STEAM campus, adding a teen center—X Studio—and preschool—¡Brillante!—to the existing children’s museum and science center. Joe worked for thirteen years at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, in various roles including Director of the Center for Museum Partnerships. He also served as Executive Director at the Don Harrington Discovery Center in Amarillo, Texas, for five years. He is a Noyce Leadership Fellow, was a board member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers and Amarillo Habitat for Humanity, and an advisor to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, which supported children’s museum networks in Oklahoma, Nevada, and Arkansas. On the ACM Board of Directors, he previously served as Vice President – Governance.

New At-Large Board Members:
Crystal Bowyer, President and CEO, National Children’s Museum (Washington, DC)
Crystal Bowyer has been the President and CEO of the National Children’s Museum in DC since 2017. She led all aspects of redevelopment for the Congressionally-designated museum, including advocating Congress to introduce bicameral, bipartisan legislation, The National Children’s Museum Act, in order to secure the Museum’s sustainability and future. Before coming to the National Children’s Museum, she spent a decade in arts and culture in Chicago, last serving as Director, External Affairs at the Museum of Science and Industry. Previously, she worked in government in Missouri and DC. She has been a presenter at InterActivity in 2019 and 2021, focused on capital campaigns and emerging museums.

Atiba Edwards, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (NY)
Atiba Edwards has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum since 2019. In this role, he oversees building operations, finance and HR, visitor experience and earned income, and marketing. He is also the co-founder of FOKUS, a 501(c)3 organization that provides communities with access to the arts and arts education programming to maximize and facilitate community relationships. He previously served as Director of Operations for Uncommon New York City Charter Schools – Brooklyn Collegiate East and as a Fixed Income Investment Bank Research Analyst.

Melissa Kaiser, Chief Executive Officer, Discovery Children’s Museum (Las Vegas, NV)
Melissa Kaiser has been the CEO of Las Vegas’ Discovery Children’s Museum since 2018. Among her accomplishments since arriving at the museum are growing its total operating revenue by 18% between 2018 and 2021 through earned and contributed revenue sources, and establishing the museum’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council in 2020. She has a significant background in development, serving in senior leadership roles at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Felipe Peña III, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Brownsville (TX)
Felipe Peña has been the Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Brownsville since 2012. During his tenure he developed and implemented the strategic plan that enhanced the museum’s ability to create an impact on the community, supported education through play for children, and increased awareness of the museum throughout the region, while searching for efficiencies to reducing operational cost. He has served on ACM’s Program Committee since 2017 and has been co-chair since 2019. He also serves as a member of the Texas Collective of Small Museums and Brownsville’s Coalition of Education

A complete list of the ACM Board of Directors:

ACM Board of Directors, 2021-2022
Officers
President: Tanya Durand, Executive Director, Greentrike (Tacoma, WA)
President Elect: Joe Hastings, Executive Director, Explora (Albuquerque, NM)
Past President: Michael Yankovich, President and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus (CO)
Vice President – Governance: Tifferney White, Chief Learning Officer, Discovery Place (Charlotte, NC)
Vice President – Initiatives: Joseph Cox, President/CEO, Museum of Discovery and Science (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Vice President – Initiatives: Dené Mosier, President and CEO, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center (Topeka)
Treasurer: Stephanie Terry, Executive Director, Louis J. Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville (IN)
Secretary: Putter Bert, President and CEO, KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Bellevue, WA)

At-Large Board Members
Brenda Baker, Director of Exhibits, Madison Children’s Museum (WI)
Crystal Bowyer, President and CEO, National Children’s Museum (Washington, DC)
Leslie Bushara, Deputy Director, Education and Guest Services, Children’s Museum of Manhattan (NY)
Atiba Edwards, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Brooklyn Children’s Museum (NY)
Joanna Haas, Chief Creative Officer, Kentucky Science Center (Louisville)
Melissa Kaiser, Chief Executive Officer, DISCOVERY Children’s Museum (Las Vegas, NV
Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Michael Luria, Assistant Dean of Corporate & Community Engagement at the College of Science, University of Arizona (Tucson)
Michael McHorney, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Eau Claire (WI)
Felipe Peña III, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Brownsville (TX)
Carol Tang, PhD, Executive Director, Children’s Creativity Museum (San Francisco, CA)
Adam Woodworth, Executive Director, The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn (IL)

About ACM
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 400 members in 48 states and 20 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

For media inquiries, contact Alison Howard at Alison.Howard@ChildrensMuseums.org.

Association of Children’s Museums to Partner on Communities for Immunity, Boosting Vaccine Confidence

ARLINGTON, VA (August 5, 2021)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is proud to partner with Communities for Immunity, an unprecedented collaboration among museums and libraries to boost COVID-19 information and vaccine confidence in communities across the United States.

Communities for Immunity provides funding to museums, libraries, science centers, and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence where it matters most: at the local level. Building on the many ways they have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will activate museums and libraries to create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to help these institutions engage diverse audiences in vaccine confidence.

The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) are leading Communities for Immunity with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) and the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM). Museums and libraries will leverage resources and research available on vaccines and variants disseminated by IMLS’ research partnership with OCLC and Battelle, the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project. Communities for Immunity will further build on existing resources and efforts, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Vaccines & US: Cultural Organizations for Community Health initiative, as well efforts from the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and more.

“In the U.S. currently only children over the age of 12 are eligible for vaccination against COVID-19,” said Larry Hoffer, Interim Executive Director of ACM. “However, children’s museums can leverage their position as hubs in their communities to provide key information to parents and guardians of those children to empower them to make the safe choice regarding vaccination.”

In addition to ACM, organizations joining in the effort include the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). This national coalition of partners are creating a Community of Practice to develop and refine vaccine education resources that will be shared with the broader museum and library community.

This important project launches at a critical moment as the United States is experiencing both a surge in COVID-19 cases related to dangerous new coronavirus variants and an urgent need to dramatically increase vaccination rates.

“Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s museums and libraries have supported their communities with critical educational and social services,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “As community pillars and trusted messengers, they are well-positioned to help build trust in and overcome hesitation to the COVID-19 vaccines.”

About ACM

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

About the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

Founded in 1973, ASTC is a network of nearly 700 science and technology centers and museums, and allied organizations, engaging more than 110 million people annually across North America and in almost 50 countries. With its members and partners, ASTC works towards a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. For more information, visit www.astc.org.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

For more information on Communities for Immunity, visit communitiesforimmunity.org.

Laura Huerta Migus Selected to Lead the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Larry Hoffer Named ACM Interim Executive Director

ARLINGTON, VA (June 29, 2021)—Laura Huerta Migus, current Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), has been selected to lead the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), beginning July 19.

“Taking on the role of Deputy Director of the Office of Museum Services is an incredible honor and comes at a time of great need and opportunity for the museum field,” said Huerta Migus. “I am excited to be joining IMLS to advance a bold agenda for strengthening museums’ roles as critical resources for communities across the country.”

Larry Hoffer has been named interim Executive Director of ACM. He started this role on June 21, providing a period of overlap for both leaders to support the ACM staff and board in a smooth transition. Hoffer most recently served as CEO of the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and previously was Chief of Staff at the Association of Science & Technology Centers.

Said Hoffer, “I’m tremendously excited to be back in the museum field, as museums have always been among my first loves. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to lead ACM during this important transition and look forward to partnering with the board, staff, and members to keep building on Laura’s rich legacy.”

The ACM Board of Directors has convened a Transition Committee to plan and implement a national search for the next ACM Executive Director. This search will be informed by the current needs and priorities of the children’s museum community.

“The ACM Board of Directors values Laura’s work in positioning ACM as a thought leader and influencer in making the world a better place for children and families. We celebrate her appointment to the Office of Museum Services at IMLS,” said Tanya Durand, President, ACM Board of Directors, and Executive Director of Greentrike in Tacoma, Washington. “In this period of transition, we look forward to working with Larry Hoffer to continue this work in support of ACM’s membership and the communities we serve.”

This transition comes at the end of an extraordinary year for our field, following closures and operational distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of these challenges, the children’s museum field innovated and transformed to remain responsive to the children and families in their communities, offering safe ways to learn through play. Leading the charge in stewarding our field through this journey has been the greatest fulfillment of ACM’s mission to champion children’s museums worldwide.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Museum Visits Top Three Million through Museums for All, an Access Program for SNAP Benefit Recipients

640+ Museums Participate in Offering Low/No Entrance Fee

ARLINGTON, VA (May 24, 2021)—Museums for All, an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) initiative, has been instrumental in opening museum doors for 3,000,000 community members receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits since its launch in 2014. The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), administers the initiative at more than 640 museums across the country to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits.

“At IMLS, we believe that museums are critical community anchors,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “They provide opportunities to expand our knowledge and strengthen our practice of being lifelong learners. We are so proud of this milestone, and that Museums for All continues to be our strongest initiative to increase public access to museums for all citizens.”

A wide range of institutions participate in Museums for All, including art museums, children’s museums, science centers, botanical gardens, zoos, history museums, and more. As part of this initiative, museums offer individual admission fees ranging from free to $3 to individuals and families presenting a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card during all normal operating hours. Participating museums are in all fifty states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Forty-seven cities are considered Museums for All Hub Cities, containing three or more participating museums.

“Participation in Museums for All, both by museums and audiences, has grown steadily since its launch in 2014,” said ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “This milestone of 3,000,000 visits shows how important museums are to all community members, even in times of crisis, such as the past year.”

Museums for All helps expand access for individuals of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits. Visitors can find participating museums at: http://www.museums4all.org. Museums interested in signing up to participate can learn more at: https://museums4all.org/for-museums/.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Reflecting on One Year of the Pandemic for Children’s Museums and the Communities They Serve

Association of Children’s Museums’ “Museums Mobilize” Initiative Highlights Efforts from Past Year

ARLINGTON, VA (March 18, 2021)—By March 19, 2020, all children’s museums in the U.S. had closed their doors to the public in response to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomorrow, March 19, commemorates one year of transformation within the children’s museum field, with museums creating new programs to support their communities and fill critical needs all while facing unprecedented operational crisis. Through its Museums Mobilize initiative, the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is documenting these programs in service to children and families, and this effort currently counts 167 programs from 78 children’s museums in 34 states and four countries.

“Currently, 61% percent of children’s museums around the world are open to public visitation—a percentage that is currently at its highest point over the past year,” said ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “As educational innovators, advocates for childhood, and community anchors, children’s museums have always offered more than the physical visit alone. The past year has put this fact into stark relief as we continue to serve our communities.”

Immediately following their initial physical closures in March 2020, children’s museums began pivoting to serve their communities in new ways, and more than 70 percent of ACM’s museum membership was offering virtual programming by June 2020. In addition, children’s museums have pursued other innovative strategies such as partnerships with schools and activity kits to help close the digital divide. At the same time, the pandemic has had a major effect on children’s museum operations, resulting in lost revenue and reductions in staffing. In summer 2020, 75 percent of children’s museums reported only 28% of the attendance they received during the same period in 2019. A survey from the American Alliance of Museums found that individual museums lost on average $850,000 as a result of the pandemic.

In an upcoming webinar on April 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET, ACM will highlight specific children’s museum efforts to offer support to parents and caregivers. Leaders from Louisiana Children’s Museum, Pretend City Children’s Museum, and DuPage Children’s Museums will engage in a fireside chat with their community partners on projects from expert parenting webinars to text message programs. Register here.

As the world looks to reopening, it’s clear the pandemic will have consequences on museum operations for years to come. ACM’s Museums Mobilize initiative highlights the need to invest in children’s museums as community responders. Learn more about the efforts of children’s museums worldwide the hashtag #MuseumsMobilize and by viewing the Museums Mobilize dashboard with key stats at ChildrensMuseums.org/Museums-Mobilize.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Children’s Museums Mobilize to Serve Children and Families during COVID-19

Association of Children’s Museums’ “Museums Mobilize” Initiative Highlights Programming to Support Communities  

ARLINGTON, VA (February 26, 2021)—Children’s museums around the world are offering programs to serve their communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Through its Museums Mobilize initiative, the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) has documented 167 programs in service to children and families from 78 children’s museums in 34 states and four countries.

“Most children’s museums closed their buildings in March 2020, and only just over half are currently open to physical visits by the public,” said ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “For the past year, children’s museums have created and transformed their work to continue to support children and families, in the face of unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

An analysis of Museums Mobilize programming shows key trends among the programs offered, including partnerships with schools to provide space for students’ in-person, hybrid, or virtual learning; webinar series to provide guidance for parenting during the pandemic; activity kits to help close the digital divide; and more. Sixty-four percent of these programs include philanthropic partnerships, and 53% involve community partnerships.

In an upcoming webinar on March 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET, ACM will highlight specific children’s museum efforts, united by the theme of addressing food insecurity during the pandemic. Leaders from Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, and the Children’s Museum of the East End will share how they are exploring activity kits, a local farmer’s market, and a food pantry as innovative strategies to support their communities. Register here.

ACM is collecting and sharing Museums Mobilize stories with the hashtag #MuseumsMobilize. View the Museums Mobilize dashboard with key stats at ChildrensMuseums.org/Museums-Mobilize.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

ACM Launches “Museums Mobilize” to Highlight COVID-19 Responses

Campaign Tagline #MuseumsMobilize captures efforts

ARLINGTON, VA (November 30, 2020)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) has launched Museums Mobilize, a new initiative to highlight how children’s museums around the world are supporting children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign documents and amplifies museum efforts over the past eight months, and also provides resources to help ACM member museums communicate their work at the local level.

“Since March, children’s museums around the world have launched new efforts and transformed existing ones to support children, families, and communities facing unprecedented challenges,” said ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “In these trying times, children’s museums have leveraged their expertise in child-and play-centered approaches to academic and social-emotional learning to meet direct and pressing needs—as shown in our new initiative, Museums Mobilize.”

Examples of children’s museum efforts include the Children’s Museum of Fond Du Lac partnership with the North Fond Du Lac School District to house the Treffert Way for the Exceptional Mind school; Louisiana Children’s Museum’s partnership with Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health to offer the In Dialogue Video Chat Series, a webinar series that demystifies mental health issues for caregivers and their children; and the Museum of Discovery and Science’s MODS PODS program for distance learners in grades K-3.

To help shape the campaign, ACM is collecting stories of impact from our more than 300 children’s museum members around the world. These stories will be shared across ACM’s channels in the coming months. ACM is also building a network of global partners to increase children’s museums’ capacity to serve their communities. The first partner in the Museums Mobilize network is Nickelodeon.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Museums in a Pandemic: Impacts for Workforce and Audiences & Partners

Sharing ACM Trends Reports 4.3 and 4.4 from the Association of Children’s Museums and Knology

ARLINGTON, VA (September 9, 2020)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and Knology shared Volumes 4.3 and 4.4 of the ACM Trends Reports, “Museums in a Pandemic: Workforce Impacts” and “Museums in a Pandemic: Impacts for Audiences & Partners.” These reports delve into changes affecting children’s museums’ staffing, as well as visitors, members, and partners, in the first two months of the COVID-19 crisis.

“In examining the impacts the COVID-19 on children’s museums, it’s clear the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting and far-reaching in our field,” said ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus. “In the midst of considerable upheaval, these findings underscore the importance children’s museums have in their communities, both as employers and as providers of services and programming that support children and families.”

The data draws from a survey from 115 ACM member museums conducted in May 2020. Key findings include:

  • Layoffs and Furloughs –36% of museums surveyed had laid off or furloughed staff as of Mid-May 2020.
  • Online Engagement – 93% of museums surveyed offered online programming and activities on their websites and social media platforms.
  • Expanding Partnerships – More than half of participating museums reported establishing new or expanding existing collaborations, with goals of sharing resources and information, conducting planning related to the pandemic (such as facility reopening procedures), and developing content for curriculums and programming.

These reports conclude ACM and Knology’s analysis of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the children’s museum field during the first two months of the crisis. ACM and Knology are collecting a second round of data to explore the field’s experiences between May and September 2020. Further impacts will be explored in future reports of the ACM Trends Reports series.

Read the full text of ACM Trends 4.3 here and ACM Trends 4.4 here.

About ACM Trends Reports
Launched in Fall 2017, the ACM Trends Reports series draws from more than a decade of ACM member data to reveal trends in the children’s museum field. Volumes 1-3 are available for free to ACM members and for sale to non-members at www.childrensmuseums.org. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460  members  in  50  states  and  19  countries,  ACM  leverages  the  collective  knowledge  of  children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.

Announcing the interPLAY Project to Support STEM Skills for Early Learners in Children’s Museums and Science Centers

—Association of Children’s Museums and STEM Research Center at Oregon State University Partner on Four-Year National Science Foundation-Funded Project—

ARLINGTON, VA (August 14, 2020)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the STEM Research Center at Oregon State University (OSU) are collaborating on “interPLAY: Developing STEM Skills through Play and Exhibit Design for Early Learners in Children’s Museums and Science Centers.” This four-year research project focuses on better understanding playful engagement with STEM exhibits for children ages three to eight.

“Children’s museums know that play supports learning, and that the designed, interactive experiences we facilitate can help scaffold this learning,” said Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director, ACM. “The interPLAY project builds upon ACM’s long-standing work in generating research and establishing quality standards for designing exhibits for early learners.”

The interPLAY project will include a literature review as well as the creation of a STEM for Play framework. Research to test and revise this framework will be conducted at children’s museum and science center sites. Further information about the project will be shared in the coming months.

“This project provides the opportunity for a much-needed expansion of the existing research on play and STEM learning for early learners,” said Martin Storksdieck, PhD, Director of the STEM Research Center. “This is an important area for the STEM Research Center, aligning with our goals to advance our understanding of—and broaden participation in—early STEM engagement.”

This “Research in Service to Practice” study has received funding from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program.

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.ChildrensMuseums.org.

About STEM Research Center at Oregon State University (OSU)
The STEM Research Center consists of a team of dedicated professionals of various disciplinary backgrounds who conduct applied research on STEM education and science engagement at the intersection of research, policy and practice, with a strong focus on equity and social justice. Learn more at https://stem.oregonstate.edu/.