ACM Trends #7.2 Meeting Children Where They Are



Data for this report was collected through a search of available literature. This research was supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

The world is designed for mobile media, including smartphones and tablets, and young children are already using these tools in a range of settings. This ACM Trends report summarizes what is currently known about the ubiquity of mobile media in young children’s lives, including the caregivers’ decisions about their children’s use. We end with a consideration of how children’s museums might take advantage of current uses. This report builds on ACM Trends 7.1, which explored general principles of digital media that supports powerful learning.

This report is based on a review of the research literature. We read dozens of empirical reports and peer-reviewed articles about early childhood media use, from university researchers and organizations like Sesame Workshop, PBS KIDS, Common Sense Media, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Fred Rogers Institute, and the American Association of Pediatrics. One challenge in reviewing this research is a lack of consensus definitions. That means we took a broad view and included any research about media content for young children delivered over the internet, from synchronous digital programming and live video calls to games and apps.

Read the full ACM Trends #7.2 report >

ACM welcomes four new board members and new board president

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 new and returning Board of Directors for 2024. The new members were elected as a slate by the ACM Membership and revealed during its annual conference, InterActivity 2024: Flourish!, held from May 15-17 in Madison, Wisconsin.

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

· Stewart L. Burgess, PhD, Executive Director, The Children’s Museum of Memphis
· Kelly McKinley, CEO, Bay Area Discovery Museum
· Charlayne Murrell-Smith, VP External Relations & Corporate Development, Boston Children’s Museum
· Caroline Payson, Executive Director, Providence Children’s Museum

Joe Cox, President & CEO at Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was welcomed as Board President for the 2024–2026 term, succeeding Joe Hastings, Co-Executive Director, Explora! The Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerque.

“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. “This governing body of volunteers guides and advises the association and our strategic work to elevate the children’s museum community, lift up children and families, advance the field through advocacy, policy, and research, and strengthen the organization.”

ACM’s work is guided by its strategic plan—approved by the Board and introduced in January 2023—and 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:
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:

Stewart L. Burgess, Ph.D is a developmental psychologist specializing in early learning who has spent the last two-plus decades designing and implementing child-centered curriculum, creating innovative educational spaces, and leading parent and teacher education workshops.

While completing his master’s degree in Experimental Psychology he conducted original research on the problem-solving abilities of young children and was a member of the team responsible for creating and norming the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (MacArthur CDI), the first and foremost assessment of early language development and the largest-scale longitudinal study of infant and toddler language acquisition that has ever been undertaken. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, where he was named a UC Board of Regents Dissertation Fellow for his research on the effects of emotion on memory in young children. While at UCI, he served as a graduate student researcher in support of the prominent large-scale longitudinal study of cross-cultural achievement led by Stevenson and Chen. Dr. Burgess went on to become the Lead Researcher and Managing Editor of Brilliant Beginnings in Long Beach, California, where he co-authored Toddler Next StepsTM, a book for parents and educators which earned the National Parenting Seal of Approval and two Director’s Choice awards for outstanding quality in parenting and professional development materials (Early Childhood News).

After serving on the board of trustees for the Children’s Museum of Memphis for four years, Dr. Burgess now serves as its Executive Director where he is spearheading educational updates to exhibits and programing, working to position the museum as a meaningful educational anchor for the community, and launching educational outreach for children and families in need of educational access. These efforts include significant partnerships with large-scale non-profits with access to families from lower income neighborhoods and significant marketing in the form of newspaper columns, news interviews, and online articles promoting the importance of early learning that have been accessed by millions.

Kelly McKinley is the CEO of the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a children’s museum at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California. She previously served as Deputy Director of the Oakland Museum of California where she oversaw collections, conservation, curatorial, interpretation, exhibition design and production, and evaluation and visitor research. Other professional roles have included Executive Director of Education and Public Programming at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, and senior roles at Bruce Mau Design in Toronto and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Kelly has lectured internationally on museum leadership and taught in the graduate museum studies programs at the University Toronto, Bank Street College in New York, the University of San Francisco, and the graduate curatorial studies and criticism program at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto. She has served on the board of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Museum Education Roundtable and EdCom (the AAM professional network for museum educators) and the editorial board of Curator: The Museum Journal. Her writing and work has been featured in recent publications including What is a Museum: Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders (eds. Quinn and Peña Gutiérrez for ICOM-US); The Inclusive Museum Leader (eds. Catlin-Legutko and Taylor, 2021) and Museums Involving Communities: Authentic Connections (Kadoyama, 2018).

Charlayne Murrell-Smith is the Vice-President of External Relations & Corporate Development at Boston Children’s Museum. She joined the Museum in 1996 to oversee communications and development and is currently responsible for the corporate, civic, government, and community work to advance its mission, programs, public profile, and financial health. She also manages the Museum’s community engagement staff and initiatives befitting the children and families of Boston and beyond.

Prior to joining the Museum, Charlayne was Director of Client Services and Strategic Planning for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, where she was responsible for the coordination and delivery of programs and services to Chamber members and served as Chief Operating Officer. She has also served as Project Vice President and General Manager of the Wishnow Group, Inc., a public affairs consulting company specializing in local and national social issues campaigns; Community Affairs Director of WHDH-AM and WZOU-FM; and was a guidance counselor in the Cambridge and Newton Public Schools.

A native of Denver, Colorado, Charlayne holds degrees from Wellesley College and Northeastern University. Her current affiliations include the Boards of Directors of Boston Children’s Chorus, Friends of Martin’s Park, Inc, Meet Boston, Seaport TMA, The American City Coalition, Third Sector Holdings, and the YMCA of Greater Boston. She is also on the advisory boards of Boston Harbor Now and the Greater Boston Chamber’s Women’s Network and Hospitality and Tourism Leadership Council.

Charlayne and has been recognized for her civic involvement and leadership including a Pinnacle Award for achievement in non-profit management from the Women’s Network of the Greater Boston Chamber, EXTRAordinary Women of Boston by the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement, and Leading Women by the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA.

Caroline Payson previously served as the Director of Education of the Smithsonian CooperHewitt National Design Museum for 11 years. In that role, she was responsible for conveying the importance of design and design thinking in everyday life education programs for audiences including teachers, students, professional designers, scholars and the general public. Major initiatives included the website’s Educator’s Resource Center (400 standards-based lessons in all curriculum subject areas and videos modeling best practices); Design-in-the-Classroom, the Harlem Design Center; and National Design Week. The Museum’s annual outreach and impact included 25,000 students, family events for 5,000, after school programs for 1000 students, public programs attended by 1,200 people and a school tour program for 6,000 students.

Additionally, Caroline Payson has a long history of community-based work and other programs that extend beyond museum walls including workshops across the US. Current projects include a mental health initiative that includes children of incarcerated parents and a 5G project funded by Verizon that includes AR/VR.

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

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ACM Trends #7.1 Designing Digital Media for Learning

Download ACM Trends #7.1

Data for this report was collected through a review of existing literature. This research was supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

When designed well, virtual programming and online experiences can facilitate meaningful learning moments in early childhood.

This ACM Trends report focuses on these digital media as one educational tool in the museum toolkit. Several well-regarded early childhood organizations have endorsed particular uses of media even for very young children, and we explore the principles and the research behind them before turning to criteria that can help identify when media is the right tool. ACM Trends 7.2 will build on this report by looking at empirical questions that must inform design: how often children use media, which children use media, and where children use media.

This Trends report reviews the research findings and concludes with practical advice for children’s museums seeking to design meaningful digital media experiences for young children.

Read the full ACM Trends #7.1 report >

ACM Trends #6.4 Collaborating with Libraries: What Children’s Museums Need to Know Copy

Download ACM Trends #6.4

Data for this report comes from two surveys. That pertaining to children’s museums’ collaborations with libraries was collected through the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations survey. The dataset contains information from 59 member institutions. Data on library collaborations with museums was collected through a NILPPA survey of US libraries conducted in 2022. This dataset contains information from 314 libraries. Research for both of these projects is supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (Grant #s: MG-251839-
OMS-22; MG-80-19-0042-19; LG-250153-OLS-21).

Libraries and museums have a shared mission as sites of informal learning.

Both museums and libraries are in the process of expanding the ways they serve their communities, going beyond informal learning to become sites for convening, health and wellness, and other community needs. As their roles change, there are new opportunities for museum-library partnerships. To help children’s museums leverage their existing library partnerships (or form new ones) in support of newly emerging goals, this Trends Report offers a library centered perspective on what makes partnerships effective. What are libraries looking for in a prospective community partner? What do they value in their collaborative relationships? And what are new ways children’s museums can work with libraries to support broader community goals?

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.

To address these questions, we explore findings from two recent IMLS-funded field-wide surveys: (1) the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations Survey (whose results we discussed in ACM Trends Report 6.3); (2) a 2022 survey conducted by Knology and the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office (ALA PPO) as part of an IMLS-funded project called “National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment” (NILPPA.org). Both surveys included questions about collaborative programming, and their results offer insights into how libraries and children’s museums can expand and strengthen their partnerships in support of shared institutional and community goals.

Read the full ACM Trends #6.4 report >

ACM Introduces “Empowering Young Minds” Podcast

Empowering Young Minds hosted by Arthur G. Affleck, III.

ACM Executive Director

Join us as we explore innovative practices and groundbreaking research shaping the future of children, unlocking potential for lifelong learning, discovery, and social-emotional development. Whether you’re a parent, educator, museum professional, or simply someone who believes in the transformative power of childhood, Empowering Young Minds has something for you. Tune in monthly for inspiring stories, practical tips, and a healthy dose of laughter as we rediscover the joy of learning through play.

Episode 1-3 are now available online featuring interviews with Jean Margaret Smith, Dr. Leah Austin, Dr. Frederic Bertley, and Joe Cox.

Here’s what you can look forward to on future episodes:

INSPIRING CONVERSATIONS: We’ll chat with educators, museum curators, researchers, and passionate advocates who champion the rights of all children to a healthy, safe, and equitable future.

DEEP DIVES INTO PLAYFUL LEARNING: Discover how museums ignite curiosity, spark critical thinking, and nurture creativity through interactive exhibits and engaging programs.

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS: Learn practical tips and strategies to bring playful learning experiences into your own homes, communities, and classrooms.

CELEBRATING DIVERSE VOICES: We’ll amplify the voices of children and families from all backgrounds, ensuring every child’s unique perspectives and experiences are heard.

THE FUTURE OF EARLY LEARNING: Exploring innovative trends and technologies shaping the way we engage young minds.

From Constraints to Opportunities: Redefining Museum Experience Through a Small Museum Lens

By: Stephen Wisniewski

Recognizing the depth and usefulness of a small museum approach, and centering it in our field, can allow us to see much more expansive possibilities by thinking and practicing from the bottom up, rather than seeing compromise and limitation from the top down.

When I joined the FFACES project as a small museum advisor, I didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I understood the basic contours and goals of the project—to adapt a traveling exhibit series that had previously visited mostly very large, well-resourced institutions so it could be permanently installed in smaller children’s museums and underserved areas—but it also seemed like I was entering an entirely different world.

Like many of us in small museums, I had never considered hosting a traveling exhibit. As the sole member of our exhibits team, I occasionally saw promotional materials or received email offers for them. However, the rental fees were often triple our annual budget. Additionally, the reality of our facilities made it clear that traveling exhibits were not designed to be accessible to us in the first place—with no loading dock, small doorways, and limited exhibit and storage space, most traveling exhibits were both financially and logistically impossible.

Moreover, I doubted whether the large exhibits I encountered would align with our audience and mission.

Conversations with colleagues from larger institutions revealed stark differences in our perspectives and terminologies. We lacked shared understandings of terms like “immersion” and “consumables,” highlighting the communication gap between our worlds. It became evident that adapting large exhibits for small museums required more than just scaling them down. This project offered an opportunity to completely reimagine the design and fabrication process, placing small museums at its core.

I believe that this reframing is part of a larger conversation that should be happening across the field; one that encourages us to think critically about resources, practices, and about what and who we value, both in terms of institutions and audience. Most importantly, this reframing recognizes small museums as not simply a limited version of a larger museum, but as fully formed, sophisticated, innovative institutions that can serve as models for any museum.

So what does it mean to think from a small museum perspective? It’s tempting to answer this question with a clear set of practical guidelines, since from the outside, it might seem that much of what defines a small museum is resource or facility limitations.

How do you accommodate weird, repurposed spaces?

Limited electrical outlets?

No tech support or regular maintenance?

In fact, designing to a set of “rules” for small museums is perhaps not even useful, because the diversity of small museums is so wildly broad—it’s difficult to apply standardized design principles to a 1,000 square-foot strip mall storefront and also a barely renovated Victorian house. Rather, it is far more useful to holistically reframe our thinking about exhibits and operations to be expansive and from the ground-up, using broadly inclusive principles and resource-conscious creativity. 

One common small museum consideration that seems to consistently surprise larger museum colleagues is that most small children’s museums don’t have the staff resources to facilitate activities, or even restage them regularly. On a busy day, most exhibits on my museum’s floor might not have any staff attention for hours, or even until after closing. This represents one of the most illuminating examples of something that might seem like a practical limitation, but actually reveals a core strength of small museums, which is the embrace of a truly self-guided, discovery-based approach. Small museums by necessity need to provide experiences that work for a wide range of ages, that are intuitive with minimal instructions and signage, can work without being reset or maintained for long periods of time, and can maintain engagement with repeat visitors over multiple visits and many years. That’s not just difficult, that’s almost magical. And we’re able to do that magic because we are small, not in spite of it.

Designing for low/no technology, no facilitation, and low maintenance is not a constraint or a compromise, but an opportunity for museums of any size. Choosing materials that can safely remain on an exhibit floor without daily laundering benefits both those who do—and don’t—have an on-site washing machine. Consciously using exhibit pieces that have the lowest possible replacement rate and cost benefits the staff at any museum. Recognizing that “special exhibit fees” make our institutions exclusionary benefits all visitors. A small museum perspective is accessibility in practice.

Advocating for the importance of a small museum perspective, and not just for consideration of small museums per se, is important beyond a single phase of this project. And that perspective can ultimately give us more inclusive models for building experiences and building relationships to the communities we serve.

5 Key Takeaways:

Reframing Perspectives:
Recognize the depth and usefulness of a small museum approach by reframing perspectives from the bottom up, rather than seeing compromise and limitation from the top down. This shift allows for more expansive possibilities in thinking and practicing within the field.
 
Adapting to Challenges:

Small museums often face unique challenges such as limited resources, space constraints, and minimal staff support. However, these challenges can be opportunities for creativity and innovation in designing exhibits and operations.
 
Embracing Self-Guided Exploration:

Small museums excel in providing self-guided, discovery-based experiences due to limited staff resources. This approach fosters engagement across a wide range of ages and encourages intuitive exploration with minimal instructions or facilitation.

Opportunities for Accessibility:
Designing for low/no technology, minimal facilitation, and low maintenance isn’t a constraint but an opportunity for museums of any size. Prioritizing materials with low replacement rates and inclusive pricing structures promotes accessibility for all visitors.

Advocating for Inclusivity:
Advocating for the importance of a small museum perspective extends beyond individual institutions. It promotes more inclusive models for building experiences and relationships with the communities served, benefiting the broader museum field.
 
 
 

About the Contributor:
Stephen Wisniewski has worked with and in small children’s museums for 20+ years primarily designing and building exhibits. He is currently an independent consultant specializing in small museum operations, exhibit design, and content. Stephen has a PhD in American Culture with expertise in Museum Studies and Cultural Studies, as well as an extensive background in visual art, DIY design and building projects, and independent art and education spaces—but mostly likes to make cool things for kids to play with.


This blog post is the first in a series of small museum perspectives that emerged from the ACM Freeman Foundation Asian Culture Exhibits Series (FFACES). Introduced as a traveling exhibit model, FFACES has been effective, with a total of twelve impactful exhibits created for two national tours. Each tour reached 3.4 million people—or 6.8 million visitors—total.The latest new round of the FFACES features modular exhibits about East Asian cultures for museums, which can be used in galleries and in outreach events. These new exhibits have a smaller footprint (500–1,000 square feet), and museums can rearrange them to fit in smaller or larger spaces. By remaining at the museum and in the community, the modular exhibit’s content becomes a part of children’s long-term memories, and can create a deeper experience than the temporary attraction of a traveling exhibit.

Children and Museums: You Can’t Start Early Enough: An Article featured in The New York Times, in Collaboration with ACM

The Association of Children’s Museums recently worked with The New York Times on an article highlighting the emphasis and importance of children’s programs in museums in the United States! The article dives into the trends within non-children’s museums and discusses the work of various children’s museums across the country, highlighting quotes from Arthur Affleck and ACM member museums. You can read the full article in The New York Times here: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/27/arts/design/museums-childrens-programs.html

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 #6.4 Collaborating with Libraries: What Children’s Museums Need to Know

Download ACM Trends #6.4

Data for this report comes from two surveys. That pertaining to children’s museums’ collaborations with libraries was collected through the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations survey. The dataset contains information from 59 member institutions. Data on library collaborations with museums was collected through a NILPPA survey of US libraries conducted in 2022. This dataset contains information from 314 libraries. Research for both of these projects is supported by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (Grant #s: MG-251839-
OMS-22; MG-80-19-0042-19; LG-250153-OLS-21).

Libraries and museums have a shared mission as sites of informal learning.

Both museums and libraries are in the process of expanding the ways they serve their communities, going beyond informal learning to become sites for convening, health and wellness, and other community needs. As their roles change, there are new opportunities for museum-library partnerships. To help children’s museums leverage their existing library partnerships (or form new ones) in support of newly emerging goals, this Trends Report offers a library centered perspective on what makes partnerships effective. What are libraries looking for in a prospective community partner? What do they value in their collaborative relationships? And what are new ways children’s museums can work with libraries to support broader community goals?

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.

To address these questions, we explore findings from two recent IMLS-funded field-wide surveys: (1) the Spring 2023 ACM Member Collaborations Survey (whose results we discussed in ACM Trends Report 6.3); (2) a 2022 survey conducted by Knology and the American Library Association’s Public Programs Office (ALA PPO) as part of an IMLS-funded project called “National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment” (NILPPA.org). Both surveys included questions about collaborative programming, and their results offer insights into how libraries and children’s museums can expand and strengthen their partnerships in support of shared institutional and community goals.

Read the full ACM Trends #6.4 report >

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)

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

About Nickelodeon

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

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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 and ASTC Jointly Publish 2023 Workforce Survey Report

Purchase Report

For more information, the 2023 ACM-ASTC Workforce Survey Report can be retrieved via ACM or ASTC. A digital download of the report is available for purchase ($199 ACM or ASTC member/$499 non-member).

ACM members and nonmembers may download the association’s publications order form and send it to membership@acm.org.

ASTC members may purchase their report via myASTC.astc.org

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) are pleased to announce the release of the 2023 ACM-ASTC Workforce Survey Report. This report presents findings from 138 participating institutions, 36% of which are active ACM member museums, and 81% of which are active ASTC member museums. ACM and ASTC worked together on previous efforts to capture this data and share with the community, most recently in 2016. 

The purpose of this joint data collection effort is to provide museum professionals and leadership with an understanding of important staffing trends in the museum world, as well as analysis that can help institutions understand how their own policies relate to institutions of similar size or type.

Key Findings

•   Full-time staff numbers are rebounding to their pre-pandemic levels, but part-time positions remain down by almost 15%, and volunteer numbers are lower as well.

•   65% of institutions report that they are currently hiring floor/frontline staff, far above the percentage that reported currently hiring for any other positions.

•   Full-time staff salaries are up by 15% since 2019 and approximately 6% in the past year.

•   Part-time hourly wages increased 23% since 2019 and approximately 7% in the past year.

•   Benefits that institutions offer staff have not changed dramatically since the 2016 workforce survey. Currently, more than 80% of institutions report contributing to employee health insurance.

•   Questions on remote work arrangements show that the majority of museum work is still being done primarily in-person. At the same time, many respondents said the demand for remote work flexibility is a major challenge in recruiting new staff.

•   11% of institutions reported have some unionized staff, but unionization is typically limited to only certain roles or departments.

•   Demographic information on staff is quite limited, raising questions for how institutions can measure their progress toward diversifying the field.

The 2023 ACM-ASTC Workforce Survey Report paints a picture of a field that is moving forward from the pandemic, but not without challenges. Compensation is rising and staff numbers are rebounding, but these trends are not consistent across all types of staff. Museums are looking for ways to attract and retain staff in a time when many workers are navigating career transitions, but they are also encountering obstacles as workers sometimes find more competitive pay, benefits, or work policies in other fields.

The full 2023 ACM-ASTC Workforce Survey Report provides a closer look at these numbers and issues, with breakouts by institution type, size, and location to help organizations understand where their own policies and practices lie in comparison to the larger field. A robust executive summary is available open access for free.

Let us walk you through it

Monday, July 17, 2023, 3:00 PM ET 

Please join ACM and ASTC for a free webinar—open to all—to learn more about the survey instrument and our findings. Attendees will hear from ACM’s Jennifer Rehkamp, Director of Field Services and Research, and ASTC’s Melissa Ballard, Director of Programs. 

Register via Zoom