There is a certain magic that blazes to life when people of like mind and enthusiasm gather en mass. Such was the case in Pasadena, CA last week when nearly a thousand children's museum employees from around the world converged on the Association of Children's Museums' InterActivity 2017 Conference. (To the left, on stage welcoming conference attendees to the Pasadena Playhouse, is actress Holly Robinson Peete!)
Kid Time was represented by its executive and assistant directors, program director, preschool director and exhibit director. The five of us attended a broad array of presentations over three days covering everything from using exhibits to teach empathy to museum safety to donor recognition to signage to effective capital campaigns to social justice work to marketing strategies to hiring a playful team... to name a handful. Breaks between sessions found us chattering with excitement about the possibilities to better serve our diverse clientele.
When we weren't hanging on speakers' every word we were Ubering around southern California, visiting a variety of children's museums, play spaces, and preschools. We found the differences between facilities and philosophies fascinating: Some, like the
Discovery Cube LA (above) focused more on technology, turning physical exhibits into a backdrop for a video game played on an iPad. Others, like the Zimmer Children's Museum and the Children's Center at Caltech, aligned much more closely with Kid Time's hands-on, imaginative play ideology. The highlight of the week was a reception at Kidspace Children's Museum (left) where hundreds of conference attendees released their inner child and rode trikes, climbed towers, dug at an archaeological site complete with Land Rover, thrilled at creepy crawlies in the Nature Exchange, and remembered at a cellular level why play and curiosity are so important.
The five of us are now back in Southern Oregon and fired up with a renewed sense of purpose. TV personality Mr. (Fred) Rogers famously said, "Play is the work of childhood." Our job is to make opportunities for play rich, nurturing, and abundant. Thanks to our experiences at InterActivity 2017 we've never felt better equipped or more supported in our efforts to achieve that mission.