MuseumLab for Museum Professionals

Thank you to everyone who applied to MuseumLab for Museum Professionals. There were many more applicants than vacancies to fill. Meet the cohort:

Lauren Bell, Director of Visitor Experience, Children’s Museum Houston
Traci Buckner, Executive Director, Akron Children’s Museum
Jin sil Choi, Curator, Gyeonggi Children’s Museum
Vanessa Eastmure, Exhibits & Collections Manager, London Children’s Museum
Billy Ernest, Education & Volunteer Coordinator, ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Lucas Fredericks, Exhibit Fabricator, Sciencenter
Daniel Guyton, Traveling Exhibits Manager, OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
Starr Kelly, Director of Education and Exhibits, Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine
Brennon Land, Executive Director and Board President, Alaska Children’s Museum
Savita Madan, Makery Coordinator, Kidzu Children’s Museum
Kelly Marks, Exhibits Manager, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Rachel Towns, Director of Exhibits, Miami Children’s Museum

About the Program
This 8-month professional learning program is designed to spark creative innovation that will make museums nimble in proactively adapting to our communities’ changing needs. Hosted through a collaborative partnership of the Association of Children’s Museums and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and guided by a steering committee of established leaders in the museum field, the program will meld synchronous in-person and online learning with personalized coaching from experts.

Participants will address deep questions and practical realities—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— all through the playful, engaging learning experiences that make children’s museums who they are. The program will guide participants as they turn those deep questions into actionable implementation plans and receive customized support in prototyping and scaling those plans within their organizations and beyond.

The program model for MuseumLab for Museum Professionals champions innovation by convening a diverse cohort of thought leaders and emerging professionals for an intensive period of hands-on engagement, collaborative learning, idea generation, experimentation, and reflection. This model is designed to support leaders and innovators through engaging their community; defining and prototyping an innovation; and building support for their idea at their home institution. MuseumLab for Museum Professionals will develop leaders who are excited and equipped to take well-informed risks so that they may seed high-quality creative learning programs and experiences in children’s museums across the country. Program phases include:

In-person onboarding (September): This one week kick-off in Pittsburgh, PA will be spent creating a shared common language around innovation in museums, exploring participants’ initial questions, and seeking ways to foster a level of personal and organizational comfort with creative risk taking. Session topics will include the role of evaluation in learning, equity and asset-based engagement, and the development of a reflective practice. Experts in various fields will lead many of the discussions.

Hybrid rumination (September-November): After leaving Pittsburgh, participants will return to their home institutions with guided questions to consider as they deepen their ideas. Bi-weekly meet-up calls will strengthen relationship-building and accountability.

In-person workshopping (November): The second week of in-person learning in Pittsburgh will focus
on investigating, defining, and workshopping each participant’s innovation. This session will include
peer feedback opportunities, private reflection, coaching on pitching their idea, and building
consensus with their staff and Board of Directors.

Hybrid coaching (November-May): At this point, cohort participants will transition away from in-person group work to individual coaching. With coaches’ support, they will work through a customized process of action planning and prototyping their innovation. Monthly virtual meetings will maintain the peer network and promote cross-site learning.

Culmination (April): Participants’ action plans will be presented at the Association of Children’s Museum’s annual conference in the Spring of 2024. The five most competitive will be awarded $10,000 to further the implementation of the plan.

The cohort of selected participants promises to bring a wide range of expertise and valuable connections from across the country who will form a peer support network that will share successes
and failures over the life of the project. Additionally, participants will have a range of experts at their disposal for questions, feedback, and mentoring throughout the length of the program. This will include prominent artists and innovators who will facilitate workshops; staff from the Association of Children’s Museum and Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh; and steering committee members for the program including:

· Arthur Affleck, Executive Director, Association of Children’s Museums
· Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art
· Sam Dean, Founding Executive Director, Scott Family Amazeum
· Atiba Edwards, Executive Vice President and COO, Brooklyn Children’s Museum
· Deborah Gilpin, President and CEO, Madison Children’s Museum
· Joe Hastings, Executive Director, Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum
· Melissa Higgins, Vice President of Programs and Exhibits, Boston Children’s Museum
· Valerie Kinloch, Renée and Richard Goldman Dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Education
· Christofer Nelsen, President and CEO, Association of Science and Technology Centers
· Andrés Roldán, Director Ejecutivo, Parque Explora
· Keni Sturgeon, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Association of Children’s Museums
· Jane Werner, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
· Karen Wilkinson, Director, Tinkering Studio, Exploratorium
· Mike Yankovich, President and CEO, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

In-person activities will take place on the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh campus, home of the largest cultural campus for children in the country. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has served the Pittsburgh region for 40 years – its reach and renown have grown both nationally and internationally as an organization that designs innovative and inclusive exhibits, creative experiences, and partnerships with artists. CMP is devoted to exceptional design and creative learning opportunities that uplift the intellect and ingenuity of children and youth. MuseumLab for Museum Professionals is named for MuseumLab, the latest addition to Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s campus. Housed in a building that was the first commissioned public library in the country, this “beautiful ruin” has been transformed into a learning space that embraces experimentation and risk as necessary. Designed for learners age 10 and up, MuseumLab provides both a physical and philosophical space to explore the intersections between informal and learning environments and to expand participation to broader audiences. Participants will soak in the creativity as they experience MuseumLab’s fully equipped art and maker spaces—engaging with metalsmithing, woodworking, fiber arts, and more.

· July 15, 2023: Application deadline
· July 31, 2023: Applicants notified of their acceptance
· September 19-22, 2023: In-person learning in Pittsburgh, PA
· September-November 2023: Self-paced learning activities; Bi-weekly virtual meetups
· November 2023 (Dates TBD): In-person learning in Pittsburgh, PA
· November-May 2024: Personalized coaching; Self-paced learning activities; Monthly virtual meetups

The MuseumLab for Museum Professionals program is designed for mid- to late-career professionals who have at least 3 years of experience working in a children’s museum. Professionals who contribute to overall museum management and/or who develop creative experiences—exhibits, programs, etc.—are most likely to benefit from the program. We particularly encourage applicants who are Black and Brown, queer and trans, or who have disabilities, as well as applicants from other marginalized groups. The program will develop leaders who are excited and equipped to take well-informed risks so that they may seed high-quality creative learning programs and experiences in children’s museums across the country.

Thanks to generous funding support, selected applicants will receive free participation in the program as well as lodging in Pittsburgh for in-person events. Participants will be expected to cover the cost of travel to Pittsburgh (one trip in September and one in November) as well as their evening meals during the in-person sessions.

The application period for the inaugural cohort is now closed.

Contact Debbie Coppula, Manager of Professional Development, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh at