Fostering Character Through Children’s Museums

Fostering Character Through Children’s Museums aims to help children thrive during childhood and develop into engaged, responsible, and caring adults. Since November 2023, ACM, through a multi-year $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. (the Endowment), is working to engage and support a cohort of 23 children’s museums* that have received planning grants from the Endowment. The Endowment invited the museums to participate in this pilot initiative. These organizations will be eligible to submit implementation grants to the Endowment in September 2024. ACM will serve as a strategic thought partner to participating museums in the development of ideas, strategies, and resources to foster character in children’s museums.

In addition, ACM will work with the cohort museums to inform, engage, and educate parents and caregivers so they too can help sustain character development conversations, activities, and modeling in the home. With guidance from experts in character development, ACM is building a program to advance character development in children and with their families and caregivers. ACM intends to share key learnings and resources with all ACM members so they might explore ways that their institutions can nurture character.

“We believe children’s museums play a unique role in promoting character development. Through our interactive exhibits, engaging programs, and supportive environments, we provide children with opportunities to explore and practice character traits such as curiosity, gratitude, empathy, and kindness.” 

Arthur Affleck, Executive Director, ACM
*Participating Children’s Museums

Boston Children’s Museum
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Children’s Museum of Denver @ Marsico Campus
Children’s Museum of Houston
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Discovery Center Museum
Discovery Cube
Discovery Place Science
Explora Science Center

Glazer Children’s Museum
Kohl Children’s Museum
Louisiana Children’s Museum 
Madison Children’s Museum
Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Museum of Discovery & Science
Pittsburgh Children’s Museum
Please Touch Museum
Port Discovery Children’s Museum
The Strong National Museum of Play
Thanksgiving Point

Initial Partners in Fostering Character

In support of the cohort of planning museums, ACM connects the cohort museums with content experts—in character development, character education, positive psychology, etc.—who give presentations and/or offer short workshops to help inform the plans and products during the planning phase.

Below are some content expert partners from our recent convenings: is a non-partisan organization that advocates for character education whose mission is to provide global leadership, voice, and resources for developing character in families, schools, and organizations. is comprised of educators, researchers, business and civic leaders who care deeply about the vital role that character will play in our future. Their work empowers people of all ages to practice and model core values that shape our hearts, minds, and choices.

Character Lab brings together researchers, educators, and anyone else who supports teenagers to better understand and improve the well-being of young people everywhere. Character Lab is a nonprofit organization that connects researchers with educators to better understand the conditions that lead to social, emotional, academic, and physical well-being for young people throughout the country.

blic conversation that places character at the center of leadership.

National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) mobilizes communities and ignites movements for the health, safety, and well-being of Black Children & Families. NBCDI is the preeminent voice for Black children and families, whose work is creating a world that benefits from the strengths and power of Black children. Guided by Eight Essential Outcomes which provide a framework for Black child development from birth through age 8, NBCDI’s focus is on the assets Black children bring to our world simply by being.

The Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University inspires, educates, and empowers leaders of character to serve humanity. Through innovative teaching, creative programming, and cutting-edge research, we aim to transform the lives of students, foster an inclusive culture of leadership and character at Wake Forest, and catalyze a broader public conversation that places character at the center of leadership.