About “Only Local” Toolkit

What It Is

This “Only Local” Toolkit is designed as a resource for children’s museum professionals who are interested in working more sustainably and collaboratively with their local communities. The Toolkit is an outgrowth of Madison Children’s Museum’s longstanding commitments to sustainability, community collaboration, and place-based pedagogy. Our recent Only Local Initiative was a logical outgrowth of these commitments, and our attempt to capture these ideas as a major thread of our work as we expanded into a new building. 

With Only Local, the museum sought to go beyond green in creating our new museum by working locally and sustainably in all aspects of project development. Only Local was applied to every aspect of project development: working with local architects, contractors, artists and children; grassroots fundraising campaigns; using local, reclaimed and sustainably harvested materials; and using local objects, stories, culture and environment as the backbone of our museum’s exhibit and program offerings.

Field of black-eyed susans

The Only Local Toolkit is our effort to provide resources, lessons learned and examples on finding local talent. It demonstrates mining one’s community for materials, content, resources and inspiration, and creating a local framework in which to embed all practices.


How to Use It The Only Local Toolkit is designed with six sections, all of which link directly back to GreenExhibits.org.

The first two sections (About, Benefits) are meant to provide background information on what a local approach means; its economic, social and environmental advantages; how it can help build institutional capacity; and how this approach is important for the museum field.

The next three sections are more nuts and bolts: how to find resources to do this in your own local community, wherever that may be. These sections are called Mindset Shift, Local Talent, and Materials and Resources.

The last section is called Case Study, and is a short case study of Madison Children’s Museum’s Only Local initiative.  This section includes project overview information about budget, overall approach, partnerships, products and also includes links to many articles, and resources pertinent to the MCM project.