Next bold place for Children’s Museums

Adopting a local framework may be the next bold move for the children’s museum field. It is at once progressive and regressive. It’s progressive in that a local approach responds to the challenges of our 21st century, as we face the realities of our unsustainable lifestyles, and regressive in that adopting a local approach is really simply going back to our very roots that were built upon a local economy.

By adopting a local framework and creating a greater emphasis on the uniqueness of place, children’s museums will become more self-reliant, individualized, diverse, and transformative for the communities where they are located. We’ll see far fewer “cookie cutter” museums with the standard bubble, grocery store and water tables, and more experiences that grow out of the inventive minds and hands of the people who live there, young and old alike.

During the burgeoning past decades, the field has burst at the seams, with lots of museums replicating best practices from one museum to the next.  While adopting a local approach is by no means attempting to do away with the development of models or best practices, it is more about truly customizing one’s museum to its community.

Madison Children's Museum building front - photograph by Zane Williams, copyright 2010Photograph by Zane Williams © 2010