What does it take to create a great education program?

As we plan for 2018 at the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, we have decided to reduce the number of programs we offer, holding workshops and home-school programs monthly instead of semi-monthly, and cultural festivals bi-monthly instead of monthly. The goal is to leave more time to ensure excellence of programs, and to build strong systems…

What does a successful maker space in a children’s museum looks like? Interview with Dr. Michael Hanchett Hanson

“Maker Spaces” are currently in vogue: they are now a fairly standard component of children’s museums, and many art museums have drop-in spaces for children and families to create art during their visit. Schools and libraries are interested in maker spaces as well. As with any other exhibit, a maker space is not inherently successful.…

Where are the objects? Why is this a museum? What allows us to claim special educational status for these charming play spaces?

As a museum educator who has spent two decades thinking about object-based education, I found the shift to children’s museums challenging. Where are the objects? Why is this a museum? What allows us to claim special educational status for these charming play spaces? To find answers, I turned to the literature. Sometimes I write things…

Why are museums wary of new audiences? Interview with Laura Huerta Migus

Laura Huerta Migus is the Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). Prior to joining ACM, Laura was the Director of Professional Development and Inclusion Initiatives of the Association of Science & Technology Center, where she was responsible for the planning and implementation of all professional development and equity and diversity efforts. In…

How do we engage parents in children’s museums?

My last two posts (here and here) have examined the history and impact of children’s museums, and have led to a dialogue with Gretchen Jennings, who responded to last week’s post on her blog, Museum Commons, by noting that in order to achieve the learning goals that were put forth in their initial incarnation, play-based exhibits require trained staff,…

Why are children’s museums museums? – Take 3

For the past few months I have been working an article related to children’s museums, and thinking a great deal about the period from the 1960s to the 1980s, when children’s museums transformed from spaces with collections-based exhibits aimed at elementary school children into play spaces for the under-10 set. At first I understood this transformation as the…

What are your best maker-based activities?

Like many children’s museums, the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum has a “maker” exhibit, where children can use tools (hammers, saws, drills, glue guns, etc) to make things. As I watch the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum educators develop prompts and activities for this area, I wonder if we are re-inventing the wheel. So many museums are…