InterActivity 2024: Flourish! Professional Development Sessions

InterActivity 2024 includes six blocks of concurrent professional development sessions which feature nine thematic streams. Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) is embedded in the sessions. Details subject to change.

Thursday, May 16, 10:45 a.m.12:00 p.m.

Join this session for a discussion of fundraising for general funds and operating expenses. We all know how to get money to buy things, and capital campaign advice abounds, but what about payroll and toilet paper? We will talk about how to incorporate operating funds into grant requests and budgets, how to have the big and sometimes uncomfortable conversations with repeat donors and sponsors to grow relationships, and how to make the big asks. The combined knowledge of pitching, applying for grants, growing donor relationships, and finding creative ways to fund the “lowest-hanging fruit” will leave you with a toolkit of fund development tricks to return to your museum. Bring your biggest operating fund challenge to workshop with the group.

Meredith Maples-Gitter, Fairbanks Children’s Museum
Atiba Edwards, Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Hannah Hausman, Santa Fe Children’s Museum

Come hear from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) about their commitment to children and families, as well as funding opportunities, available to children’s museums.

Reagan Moore, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Peter Fristedt, PhD, National Endowment for the Humanities
Toniqua Grigsby, National Endowment for the Arts

Four diverse museums share how to implement community engagement models in unique and scalable ways. Discussion will center on building partnerships to create a range of programs offsite—from individual experiences to long-term engagements and permanent installations. Learn how to implement afterschool programs in schools, create successful mobile programs, and partner for long-term collaborative success outside the museum walls. Dive into logistics of building successful program models on any budget for any size museum. Gain an understanding of how to secure funding and organizational buy-in to think outside the box (literally!) and discover the reasons why you should.

Hilary Van Alsburg, Children’s Museum Tucson
Sylvia Doyle, Jackson Hole Children’s Museum
Dené Mosier, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center
Tiffany Espinosa, Children’s Museum Houston

We have all seen an adult leading their child’s experience through the museum, directing them at each exhibit, then moving on before the child has the chance to explore. But what if the exhibit is designed for the adult to engage on a different aesthetic level, supplementary to the child-directed play? When done successfully, adult exhibit engagement frees the child to explore the space on their own while joyful adults are nearby for support. From artistic flourishes to thoughtful seating arrangements, an engaged adult experience can generate longer dwell times and increased observable behaviors related to play-based learning.

Conrad Meyers, Bay Area Discovery Museum
Rick Roth, Bay Area Discovery Museum
Kelly Hoke, The STEM Research Center at Oregon State University

How do you create a culture that fosters leadership, cross-departmental growth, and a long-lasting employee base? In an era where employees are seeking out passion over pay, it is important to find ways to cultivate leaders within our organizations regardless of job title or position. Session attendees will discover effective strategies to work collaboratively across departments to support the organizational mission and foster growth among future leaders, while improving company culture and increasing employee retention.

Megan Kemmett, Imagine Children’s Museum
Quinn Schell, Imagine Children’s Museum

Madison Children’s Museum and Caretakers of Wonder project team members will present the new developmental framework created to help museums serving children address climate change in their institutions in developmentally appropriate ways. The framework pulls together research from experts in the fields of climate psychology, neuroscience, equity, early childhood, nature education, and climate science, and its goal is to be a tool for climate action, engagement, and education. Importantly, this session will showcase how museums and caregivers can help their audiences find hopeful, engaging, and empowering ways to manage uncertainty and build resiliency in productive ways.

Brenda Baker, Madison Children’s Museum
Jenni Martin, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Katie Slivovsky, Independent Professional
David Sobel, Antioch University New England

Take your education programming beyond sensory rooms and adaptability boxes and explore intentionally inclusive programming for children with exceptionalities. Join museum colleagues who have journeyed into inclusive programming by designing programs that allow exceptional children to experience the museum away from their caregivers and with their peers in a fully inclusive environment. Learn strategies for curating and designing for exceptional children. Leave the session having identified your reasons and goals for designing inclusive learning experiences as well as with practical techniques and a plan to make your education programs more inclusive to all.

Emily Woods-Johnson, Glazer Children’s Museum
Claire Stockman, Creative Discovery Museum
Blaire Donnelly-Mason, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Liz Burke, Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at University of South Florida

Celebrated author, cartoonist, and creative force Lynda Barry will lead an out of the box drawing jam to unleash your hidden creativity. Lynda’s genre-defying work teaching drawing and writing for children and adults is based on the premise that EVERYONE is an artist or writer. Barry will guide participants through the method she uses for teaching writing and drawing that focuses on the relationship between the hand, the brain, and spontaneous images, both visual and written. Barry has used her techniques across North America—with prison inmates, postal workers, pre-schoolers, university students, and hairdressers—and now children’s museum professionals.

Charlotte Cummins, Madison Children’s Museum (moderator)
Lynda Barry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Art Department
Angela Richardson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Business School

This session will explore the concept of centering children as key (and often overlooked) collaborators in museum exhibit and program partnerships. Three institutions representing different regions, audiences, museum sizes and departments, offer three concrete examples of successful collaborations with children in exhibit planning and programming. From a small children’s museum in suburban Boulder to a large San Antonio-based children’s museum and exhibit designer/fabricator, to a Denver fine art museum, collaborations with children—centering children’s voices and opinions—have proven wildly successful.

Anna Talley, WOW! Children’s Museum – World of Wonder (moderator)
Jackie Hobbins, WOW! Children’s Museum – World of Wonder
Nicole Cromartie, Clyfford Still Museum
Meredith Doby, The DoSeum

As museums often struggle to support a sense of belonging amongst marginalized staff and visitors, how can they work to create informed and inclusive practices that shift museum culture while centering the voices of those often overlooked or excluded from shaping the narrative? This session will discuss the collaborative process between Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Madison Children’s Museum as they work together to answer this question. In exploring the relationship between belonging and critical consciousness, both museums will share processes and findings from their respective working groups.

Zainab Adisa, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (moderator)
Azania Lane Majestic, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
KT Todd, EdD, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Kia Karlen, Madison Children’s Museum
Peter Wardrip, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison

When a children’s museum has data on the value of stakeholders’ perception of their institution, a better justification for funding can be made. Therefore, communicating the value of children’s museums to the community must extend beyond simply assessing their economic worth. In this session, you will learn one thriving community’s perception toward a local children’s museum with respect to three hypothesized areas of value. The Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester, Connecticut will present the evaluation process used to gather needed data for grant proposals, donation requests, and inclusion in the local municipal budget.

Patricia Buxton, EdD, Lutz Children’s Museum
Clare Mazur, Lutz Children’s Museum
Ashley Little, Lutz Children’s Museum

Thursday, May 16, 2:00 p.m.3:15 p.m.

This session will cover the essentials of establishing a sound framework for processes, procedures and best practices in your organization. Presenters will delve into the process of preparing a request for proposal (RFP) and engaging the board/finance committee in the process. Additionally, presenters will explore creating and implementing schedules, checklists, and reconciliations while promoting transparency and accountability. Walk through the before, during, and after an audit and understand how to interpret the 990 form and audited financial statements.

Fred Mutz, EdVenture
Mike Lisle, Children’s Museum of the Low Country
Carey Loshbaugh, Louisiana Children’s Museum

No, this isn’t Only Murders In the Building. Playful podcasts can be an effective marketing strategy to reach your current audience, to develop and nurture community partnerships, and to grow and expand your outreach efforts. But where to start? Often, especially for a small or midsized museum, starting and maintaining a podcast may seem intimidating. Dr. Diane Jackson Schnoor of Dr. Diane’s Adventures in Learning shares strategies for creating your own playful podcast (on a budget) with video, audio, and blog opportunities for increasing your marketing reach. What are you waiting for? Let your voice stand out today.

Diane Jackson Schnoor, PhD, Dr. Diane’s Adventures in Learning

How do you create experiences that help all visitors flourish? One powerful solution is to leverage two established frameworks for designing environments that embrace and uplift human variability. Explore examples of groundbreaking work using Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning guidelines to create museum experiences that engage, enable, and empower audiences. Then, experience firsthand how to use planning tools and ideas that can streamline the design process in your own programs.

Danielle Linzer, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (moderator)
Debbie Coppula, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

In this fun and fast-paced “nuts and bolts” workshop, participants will learn how to build their organization’s capacity for prototyping and exhibit development from three veteran exhibits creators! First, we’ll discover the power of “bringstorming”; weigh the pros and cons of building exhibit elements “in-house”; and learn what Elvis has to do with prototyping. Then we’ll break into teams for a hands-on rapid prototyping and share-out session. Every participant will take away budget-stretching tips, tricks, and resources from this workshop that they can use as soon as they return to their home institution. Note: there will be a break at 3:15 p.m., but participants need to attend Part One to really benefit and understand Part Two.

Paul Orselli, POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.)
Blake Wigdahl, Process Curiosity
Joe Cook, Hüttinger Interactive Exhibitions

Opportunities for professional development are necessary to support the flourishing of museum educators at every stage of their careers. However, the isolated nature of work in many museums means that it can be difficult to engage in ongoing learning with fellow practitioners. This session will highlight the Museum Educator Network: a regional group of museum educators from several children’s museums and science centers in the Midwest region. Using the framework of a Professional Learning Community, this session will demonstrate an emerging model for professional development plus specific strategies for attendees to support the educational practice and professional well-being of museum educators.

Peter Wardrip, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison (moderator)
Tarah Connolly, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bill Pariso, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
Jim Edwards, Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
Beth Vanderloop, Building for Kids Children’s Museum

In this session, three museums will share their experience with incorporating the home languages and cultures of visitors through educational programming and museum environments to better serve their communities. Representing the languages and cultures of children in educational programs enriches learning while encouraging growth and confidence in their identities. Presenters will discuss practices and methods used in their museum settings, along with successes by sharing feedback and interactions with children, students, families, and educators.

Elsa Peterson, Children’s Museum Tucson (moderator)
Andrea Bennett Gutierrez, Children’s Museum Tucson
Danielle Nylander, The Tech Interactive
Selena Garza, International Museum of Art & Science
Shannon Blady, PhD, Louisiana Children’s Museum

One of the best ways to help children flourish is to allow ourselves to reconnect with our inner child. This session will lead participants in activities meant to reignite their relationship with their younger selves, as a means towards enhancing the work they do for their museum such as taking financial risks, building stronger community partners, and dreaming a bigger vision for their museum. Participants will have the opportunity to draw their “Utopia Museum,” write a letter from their eight-year-old self and discuss roadblocks in their organizational goals through the eyes of a child.

Robert Halvorson, Santa Fe Children’s Museum
Leona Hillary, Santa Fe Children’s Museum

This session will explore museum-based partnerships in four community settings: schools, libraries, residential areas, and community centers. The presenters will share how these relationships have been built and sustained over time for mutual benefit. Participants will be invited to actively engaged in conversations that invite them to address considerations around and approaches to building partnerships. Topics will include gaining trust with community members and constituents, engaging in authentic community listening to identify assets and areas of need, relational vs. transactional implementation of initiatives, and ways of co-creating content, programming, and spaces that lead to community stake-holding, shared ownership, and sustainability.

Hana Elwell, Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Rachel Hamilton, Thinkery
Amy Spar, Chicago Children’s Museum
Ali Sullivan, Children’s Museum of Richmond

The London Children’s Museum, along with Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Madison Children’s Museum, will share their experiences in modifying teen engagement within their museums to allow for it to be teen-interest led and influenced. Presenters will discuss assessing teen engagement in children’s museums, creating sustained and successful teen employment through community-oriented workforce development, and developing youth directed approaches to teen programming within their museums.  After case studies are shared, the session will shift into an active workshopping portion for attendees to consider their own spaces and teen engagement.

Vanessa Eastmure, London Children’s Museum
Jessie Collins, London Children’s Museum
Kate Mirand Calleri, Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Rayna Cunningham, Madison Children’s Museum

To flourish, children’s museums need quantitative metrics to increase, improve, and document our impact. Session participants will be introduced to an open-source, research-validated observation tool that can be easily applied in museums of all sizes to evaluate exhibitions, programming, and professional development. The LEGO Foundation Experience Tool can be used to assess five elements of playful learning: joyful, meaningful, social interactive, engaging, and iterative. Session speakers will share the research behind the tool, inspiration through case studies, tips to using the tool, and free resources to share with your staff and board.

Carol Tang, PhD, Children’s Creativity Museum
Alexandra Pafilis Silverstein, Chicago Children’s Museum
Garrett Jaeger, The LEGO Foundation

Thursday, May 16, 3:45 p.m.5:00 p.m.

What would it look like for small museums to be at the center of our field? Would it change how we think about exhibits, operations, audiences—even missions? And how could it benefit stakeholders of any size to reimagine the world of children’s museums through a smaller lens? Not intended as a “small museum session,” instead, we will consider small museums from a diverse set of perspectives as vital building blocks at the center of a field with the unique opportunity to build itself around the improvisation, innovation, and creative spirit of small and locally-focused institutions.

Stephen Wisniewski, PhD, Independent Professional
Jacky Metcalfe, Flint Children’s Museum
Mary Kegel, Ravenswood Studio
Emilie Utigard, Children’s Museum of South Bend

The future belongs to the children: all the children. As children’s museums, how can we best engage our audience in conversations about the future that are inspirational and inclusive? Three museums will share how they have collaborated with communities of color and working artists to create programs and exhibitions with a focus on the future. From Afrofuturism, Indigenous futurism, Latinx futures, and female-driven Empathetics—the future is as diverse and beautiful as our communities.

Chris Navarro, The DoSeum
Matthew Picon, The New Children’s Museum
Iyari Arteaga, The New Children’s Museum
Nina Woodruff-Walker, Museum of Children’s Art

In this session, attendees will engage with different perspectives on practices and principles used in their museums to foster connection and empathy so children, families, and communities can flourish in a post-pandemic world. The presenters will share their perspectives on museum design, exhibits, community engagement, and exhibit evaluation to spark conversation about how children’s museums can be spaces for well-being. We will address the following questions: What are effective practices for fostering inclusion and equity in programs and exhibits? What role can museums play in promoting a sustainable future for children and communities? What design principles can be adopted to foster and enhance empathy and connection?

Melanie Hatz Levinson, Kidzu Children’s Museum (moderator)
Samantha Shannon, Kidzu Children’s Museum
Brad Burns, Gensler
Sarah McManus Christie, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Anne Fullenkamp, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Cultural institutions are increasingly prioritizing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). As museums take off on this exploration, there are questions to consider: Where do you start? What if all the stakeholders are in different places on their DEAI journey? How do you know what to pack in your knowledge tool kit? Through a panel discussion among cultural professionals, this session will share the Kohl Children’s Museum team’s experience on their own project planning journey. This session will include an interactive DEAI mapping activity to help guide you in next steps, no matter where you are on your DEAI journey.

Annie Vedder, Luci Creative
Stephanie Bynum, Kohl Children’s Museum
Sandra Bonnici, Sandra Bonnici Consulting
Erika Gray, Kohl Children’s Museum

STEM learning ecosystems bring organizations together in a community to provide multiple pathways through a learner’s lifetime: at home, at school, at play, and at work. Children’s museums can play a big role in STEM learning ecosystems. This approach can help communities and neighborhoods flourish by sharing among community organizations and providing relevant content and opportunities for children and families. Hear real stories about the experiences of museums who currently participate in these ecosystems; learn about recent research into strategies for this approach and learn how to get involved.

Catherine McCarthy, PhD, Arizona State University (moderator)
Allison Anderson, Museum of Science, Boston
KT Todd, EdD, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Ali Jackson, Sciencenter
Lynnsey Childress-Wimp, Discovery Lab

In a life full of meetings, long hours, projects, and deadlines, it can be hard to find time to slow down and care for ourselves and one another. Practicing what we preach through creative play, mindfulness, and art making can be powerful tools for healing and burnout relief. It allows us to stay focused in the present moment and get into a flow state where we feel and perform our best. During the state of flow, the brain releases chemicals that can boost focus, and expand lateral thinking, all of which contribute to heightened creativity, relaxation, and community building. Learn strategies for recognizing and avoiding burnout, explore the science behind connecting our hands, hearts, and minds, and, most importantly, take the opportunity to play, make art, and decompress.

Jennifer Farrington, Chicago Children’s Museum
Natalie Bortoli, Chicago Children’s Museum
Sara Tolson, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Partnerships between children’s museums and universities can be beneficial to both institutions. Learn from museum professionals, researchers, and students about forging a museum-university partnership and discover how you can establish a collaborative relationship that enhances learning, scholarship, and impact.

Beth Fitzgerald, The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum
Rachel Thibodeau-Nielsen, PhD, University of Missouri
Roxane Hill, The Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City

Our guest-facing teams power the play in children’s museums. Learn about effective ways to build capacity in your guest-facing team through engaging professional development that will ensure a stellar guest experience. Three museums will share strategies, tools, and resources for engaging training and ongoing learning and growth opportunities. Participate in sample training activities from each museum.

Hardin Engelhardt, Marbles Kids Museum (moderator)
Robin Mangum, Marbles Kids Museum
Emily Mitis, Thinkery
Cassie Coffey, DuPage Children’s Museum

Similar to the InterActivity 2023 Effective Practices Jeopardy session, this semi-fishbowl style session will utilize the latest survey data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Guided by advisor, Laura Huerta Migus, Deputy Director of IMLS, the session will include four to five rounds of Family Feud-style game, culminating in the Final Round. Survey data that is appropriate for small, medium, and large museums, covering a variety of topics, in an active and fun learning environment will be selected.

Putter Bert, KidsQuest Children’s Museum (moderator)
Michael Shanklin, kidSTREAM Children’s Museum
Mike Yankovich, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Tifferney White, Louisiana Children’s Museum
Laura Huerta Migus, Institute of Museum and Library Services

Continued from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Participants need to attend Part One to really benefit and understand Part Two.

Paul Orselli, POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.)
Blake Wigdahl, Process Curiosity
Joe Cook, Hüttinger Interactive Exhibitions

Friday, May 17, 10:30 a.m.11:45 a.m.

Join us for a marketing fishbowl that explores bandwidth, balance, ethics, and other—big and small—marketing topics. Facilitated by three experienced children’s museum marketers and informed by your work, this discussion-based workshop will dive into the chaotic and beautiful world of children’s museum marketing.

Kelly Stenka, Lincoln Children’s Museum
Laura Burton, Kansas Children’s Discovery Museum
Jayson Albright, Children’s Museum of Illinois

Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is unique in the children’s museum world because of its hyper- focus on the local. Local stories, local fabricators, local materials, local people and local culture make up the backbone of MCM’s flavor. This session will introduce MCM’s Only Local Initiative, our Only Local Toolkit, and the museum’s Field Guide to Local Culture, as well as the museum’s unique approach to working with local artists and fabricators. The session will include local educators, artists, and architects, each giving their own perspective on why using such a hyper-local lens is such a compelling approach. Attendees will leave with new tools to expand their local networks in new ways.

Kia Karlen, Madison Children’s Museum (moderator)
Mark Wagler, Formerly Randall Elementary School
Dan Ganch, Super G Construction
Lou Host-Jablonski, Design Coalition Architects
Rissel Sanderson, Madison Metropolitan School District

Experiencia a Dual Language program with us! Educadoras de Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) will lead you through a quick art project we did virtually con our guests. Then we will share what we have aprendido and the mistakes we have made learning how to include different languages in our spaces at CCM and at the Art Institute of Chicago. Information covered includes the differences between Bilingual, and Dual/Translingual approaches, ways to include multilingual staff in meaningful and equitable ways in the process, and how we have communicated with our communities about their needs in formal and informal ways. Lastly, we will include novel ways to share what YOU are doing in your spaces!

Liz Rosenberg, Chicago Children’s Museum
Alexandra Pafilis Silverstein, Chicago Children’s Museum
Lucía Calderón Arrieta, The Art Institute of Chicago

In the spectrum of museum experiences, programming, and traveling exhibits get a lot of attention but what about temporary exhibits? Consider a transitional, temporary, or seasonal exhibit! We’ve created a framework of effective practices based on examples from dozens of different sized museums doing this already. You’ll walk out of this session inspired with tips and personalized ideas. This session will take you through the key components then offer an inspiring roundtable work session where you can make your own exhibit plan. With attention to differing budgets, space allocations, and the logistics necessary to pull it all off—we’ve got you covered!

Erik Smith, National Children’s Museum (moderator)
John Shaw, Museum EXP
Langley Lease, National Children’s Museum
Denise Gerstenberger, Discovery Depot
Beth Housewert, Inspired Impact

Melding synchronous in-person and online learning with personalized coaching, MuseumLab for Museum Professionals guided its participants to turn deep questions—about how to conceptualize and create exhibits and programs that emphasize creativity, health and justice, integrate new technologies, think entrepreneurially, deepen accessibility, and engage emotions—into prototypes and actionable implementation plans. This session will showcase the work of the inaugural cohort and offer opportunities for project feedback and discussion. The work remain on display through lunch.

Jane Werner, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (moderator)

Weave pedagogical ideas and techniques into your museum’s education programming. Learn how you can easily and effectively engage children and families using the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches. Discover how thoughtful program design can inspire children to develop independence through the power of choice. Invite children to engage, concentrate, and refine fine-motor movements while inspiring families to apply these methods at home.

Shelby Hiken, Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Natalie Williams, Miami Children’s Museum
Catie Davis, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

In this conversation led by clinical psychologist, Dr. Vincent Miles, participants will learn to identify and address burnout in executive and senior staff. Participants will learn strategies for combating burnout and building resilience. The museum environment provides unique stressors and challenges. This conversation provides a space to hear insights from fellow executives and museum leaders with direct feedback from Dr. Miles, as well as strategies for change and tips to build a workplace culture that promote healthy individuals and a flourishing organization.

Vincent Miles, PsyD LP, Great River Children’s Museum (Board) and Human Factor Leadership, LLC

Three different children’s museums are sowing the seeds of possibility by growing beyond the four walls of their buildings. This session will explore various outreach strategies—from operating as a robust museum without walls to offering educator training workshops for community partners to incorporating state education standards into museum programming. A museum’s reach is only limited by its cultivation, so let’s get tending and watch as our communities flourish!

Tennille Adams, Children’s Museum of the Magic Valley
Bethany Bell, Children’s Museum of the Magic Valley
Claire Stockman, Creative Discovery Museum
Brett Nicholas, DuPage Children’s Museum

We often hear the phrase “culture is king” but many organizations don’t know how to curate a positive culture. Join members of the Children’s Museum of Richmond to hear how they turned around the organization’s employee experience—reducing turnover and increasing employee engagement. The Executive Director and Director of Human Resources will share the museum’s culture journey from 2019 to today. They will share innovative employee programs that have helped solidify a culture of learning and play and share evaluation methods and tactics your team can implement immediately upon your return.

Whitney Fogg, Children’s Museum of Richmond
Danielle Ripperton, Children’s Museum of Richmond

In children’s museums, we often focus on finding enriching play and learning opportunities for our youngest friends; but children’s museums can be a place of playful, intentional learning for teenagers and retirees as well. This panel will discuss how to create a flourishing and engaging volunteer program for volunteers of all ages and experience levels, whether starting from scratch or expanding and strengthening an existing volunteer program. We will discuss the hiring and onboarding process for volunteers as well as meaningful programs and tasks for active volunteers that will provide purposeful learning and play for guests and volunteers alike.

Kathryn Schmitt, Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Christopher Small, Louisiana Children’s Museum
Kailey Singleton, Kidzu Children’s Museum

Friday, May 17, 1:15 p.m.2:30 p.m.

Building or renovating a museum is challenging in the best of times. How can we prepare space for capital projects to flourish? As the seeds of new projects are planted, it can feel like the ground is shifting under our feet. But fertile soil and good stewardship lead to healthy, fun, and satisfying outcomes! Panelists with experience as both museum staff and allied consultants will help you lay an excellent foundation for projects of any scale. We’ll discuss how planning and pre-design work can answer important questions and help your team establish key project parameters like budgets, schedules, and teams.

Alissa Rupp, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, FRAME | Integrative Design Strategies
Jill Randerson, Jill Randerson Exhibit Management
Aaron Goldblatt, Metcalfe
Peter Olson, Peter Olson Museum Planning, LLC

In this session, attendees will hear about two successful children’s museum capital campaigns. The expERIEnce Children’s Museum in Erie, PA has raised over $18.5 million for its new renovation and expansion under the leadership of its executive director. Explore & More in Buffalo, NY raised $29 million in 2019 and then another $5 million total since then! Hear what these presenters believe led to each of their successful fundraising campaigns. Takeaways include how to prepare your museum for a capital campaign and for those new to the field, the session will include an overview of fundraising and an introduction to the capital campaign process.

Ainslie Brosig, expERIEnce Children’s Museum
Michelle Urbanczyk, Explore & More, The Ralph C. Wilson Children’s Museum

Children’s museums can have A LOT of plastics in their exhibit materials. Plastic is durable, cleanable, and cheap. But we also know of the detrimental effects of plastics on health and the environment. As children’s museums, we are dedicated to the health and safety of children and the futures they will inhabit. Four museums will share their ideas for alternative materials in exhibits. From rocks to felt to everything in between, the presenters will share failures and successes in sustainable materials. Attendees can feel, test, and ask questions to apply the materials in their own institutions.

Meredith Doby, The DoSeum
Daniel Guyton, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Anne Fullenkamp, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Margo Malter, Long Island Children’s Museum

What if we infused playful learning with our everyday leadership strategies to intentionally let go of our innate desire for control? Might we change the organizational and cultural domains of leadership practice by tapping into the power of play? Learn how to incorporate the open-ended, creatively divergent, experimental aspects of play to lead business transformations and spark cultural change in your organization while smashing the status quo. Presenters will share stories and offer challenging prompts to inspire participants to courageously apply playful leadership to their work environments.

Christian Greer, EdD, Michigan Science Center
Carol Tang, PhD, Children’s Creativity Museum
Tifferney White, Louisiana Children’s Museum

Dive into the exciting world of Artificial Intelligence (AI)! Learn strategies and techniques for engaging children and families creatively in this rapidly evolving technology that is already affecting our lives and transforming aspects of society. Discover a range of hands-on activities designed to engage families in understanding AI concepts playfully. Attendees will explore how robots and people are different, how facial recognition works, and how machine learning can be used in activities and exhibits. This participatory session will include facilitated table discussions about talking with children about the future and fostering intergenerational learning and curiosity about the possibilities of AI.

Catherine McCarthy, PhD, Arizona State University
Darrell Porcello, PhD, Children’s Creativity Museum
Ari Krakowski, Lawrence Hall of Science
Keith Ostfeld, Children’s Museum Houston

Dig in and get inspired by nine speakers who will give short talks on three topics related to play, children’s museums, and child development: Flourishing, Belonging, and Risk. Then engage with others to take the exploration of these topics further.

Hardin Engelhardt, Marbles Kids Museum (moderator)
Mindy Porter, Scott Family Amazeum
Mallory Mbalia, Fred Rogers Productions
Tiffany Espinosa, Children’s Museum Houston
Ashley Niver, Long Island Children’s Museum
Liz Rosenberg, Chicago Children’s Museum
Pam Hillestad, Glazer Children’s Museum
Erik Smith, National Children’s Museum
Sarah Curtis, The Works Museum

Bring joy and delight to families through shared music experiences. This session will introduce Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, the research supporting it, and its impact on families. This international program pairs new or expecting parents/caregivers with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies—supporting maternal health, aiding childhood development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child. Attendees will participate in a group writing of a new lullaby with a teaching artist and get resources to take back to your museum.

Erika Floreska, Long Island Children’s Museums
Tiffany Ortiz, Carnegie Hall
Arthur Affleck, Association of Children’s Museums
Saskia Lane, Carnegie Hall

Hot off the press! This session introduces a new online resource for museums focused on advancing inclusive and equitable practices in museums. Designed for museums of all types and sizes to engage in dialogue, planning, and changemaking related to equity and inclusion practices, these tools encourage museums to identify possibilities for action and change. Hear from the developers of the tools and the museums who pilot-tested the resource about how they gained alignment and set priorities for their DEAI work.  

Jenni Martin, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Marilee Jennings, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

What do we mean when we talk about “caregiver engagement” in children’s museums? What’s more, how do our ideas about this long-standing priority relate to caregivers’ own beliefs about their roles and responsibilities? Through research presentations and practice-focused discussions, this session will explore the often-unspoken expectations that children’s museums have about caregivers’ involvement in children’s learning. Starting from a strengths-based perspective, we will explore more inclusive and equitable ways of framing caregiver engagement, situating this central concern of children’s museums within broader ecosystems of individuals and institutions that help families learn, connect, and flourish.

Suzy Letourneau, PhD, New York Hall of Science
Tarah Connolly, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kelly Hoke, The STEM Research Center at Oregon State University
Delia Meza, New York Hall of Science

Friday, May 17, 2:45 p.m.4:00 p.m.

Children’s museums around the country differ in terms of their size, scale and scope—and most of all in their organizational structure. Learn how your museum’s staffing infrastructure compares to others in this “Gallery Walk” session where you will engage with visual displays of a host of museum organizational structures—and presenters from each museum.

Rachel Demma, EdD, Port Discovery Children’s Museum (moderator)
Chelsie Webster, Modesto Children’s Museum
Brian Krosnick, Modesto Children’s Museum
Jeraka Tweite, SPARK
Stephanie Arduini, Seattle Children’s Museum
Aimee Terzulli, Long Island Children’s Museum

Name three adjectives and we’ll help you craft an actionable promotion plan in this practical workshop for small to medium museums. Attendees will see successful examples of event and exhibit promotion plans and work with other marketing professionals to create their own, all implementable by a limited team. Use tools like traditional media, social platforms, influencer marketing, and paid media to accomplish marketing goals. Leave the workshop ready to hit the ground running on your initiative!

Laura Burton, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center
Sarah Duff, Westchester Children’s Museum

Whether intentional or not, the financial decisions organizations make, and the processes we use to make them, reflect our organizations’ values and priorities. Furthermore, budgets and financial decisions are not always shared in an accessible manner with staff, leading to confusion regarding the motives of the organization’s leadership. This session will examine current practices used by the presenters and offer examples of how institutions can live their values through the world of finance. Hear concrete examples from the panel on how to leverage financial decisions and practices to lift the morale of your museum and move forward with trust and accountability.

Monica Bonny, Bay Area Discovery Museum
Susie Park, Chicago Children’s Museum
Christina Koebley, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh       

With the goal of being responsive and sustaining for Latinx communities, the Cambio Project focuses on community engagement and organizational for museums centered in equity. This session features an introduction of a new framework and case studies from museums who have used that framework to make organizational change toward more inclusive and equitable practice. 

Ann Hernandez, Space Center Houston
Jenni Martin, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Katie Johnson, Butterfly Pavilion
Carla Boscacci, KidZone Museum

To help our communities flourish, museums can create meaningful climate change programming for young children and caregivers using an encouraging and solution-based framework. Engage with two museums that have connected through the LEGO Playful Learning Network community of practice as they share how they are working to design climate change programming that is approachable and promotes a positive future. These museums will lead participants in hands-on activities and a brainstorming session around barriers and solutions. Participants will walk away with connections to other institutions who are also committed to climate change programming to continue solution-making together.

Michelle Dileso, Boston Children’s Museum
Kelsey Holtaway, Children’s Creativity Museum
Dianne DeStefano, Boston Children’s Museum

Adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic, museums forged innovative collaborations with schools and rural communities. This session explores how we can continue to use these tools to reach these same communities today. Presenters will share their own work that went the distance and had mesurable impact on language and literacy development. Children’s Museum of Atlanta partnered with researchers and rural school systems to explore the impact of virtual learning. Explora worked with Home Visitors in rural areas of New Mexico to distribute STEAM@home kits. This session will use hands-on learning and presentations to share results and strategies for supporting language comprehension and developments.

Karen Kelly, Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Jacqueline Smalley, Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Gary Bingham, PhD, Georgia State University, College of Education and Human Development
Tara Henderson, Explora

Our frontline staff and volunteers are the face of our organizations. They shape our audiences’ experience while articulating our vision and values as the direct contact between our institutions and the communities we serve. Investing in and supporting them is crucial, and in this session, we will be discussing various successful strategies to support these individuals to better adapt to changing visitor needs. We’ll explore new trends in visitor behavior, give participants an opportunity to discuss their own audience observations, and speak to adopting new policies that champion our frontline while also creating an inclusive environment for all audiences.

Christina Leavell, Arizona State University
Becky Wolfe, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Annie Gordon, Sciencenter
Bill Pariso, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum

As museum professionals, we don’t usually admit our mistakes. It’s understandable; we answer to supervisors, boards of directors, government institutions, funders, clients, and the public. Sharing our mistakes is the first step in learning from them. Join us as we come together to create a playful and safe environment that allows for admission of failure, encourages reflection, and celebrates professional growth. A crowd-sourced contest awards the Epic Failure Trophy of 2024 to the person in the room with the biggest mistake of the year and a “Red Pencil Reward” for everyone!

Kathy Gustafson-Hilton, Hands On! Studio
Jonathan Zarov, Madison Children’s Museum
Robin Gose, EdD, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
Blake Wigdahl, Process Curiosity

The InterActivity 2024 Preliminary Program is now available with event highlights

Six blocks of concurrent sessions for a total of more than 55 professional development sessions

Content in nine different streams: Business Operations, Community Engagement, Design, Leadership, Learning, Mental Health & Well-Being, Partnerships, People, and Research & Evaluation. Diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) is embedded throughout the sessions

Presenters from outside the children’s museum field, including Carnegie Hall, Fred Rogers Productions, The LEGO Foundation, and Madison Metropolitan School District

ACM MarketPlace with products and service providers for all your museum’s needs

Networking opportunities, including opening evening reception in the ACM MarketPlace