The New Children’s Museum is an arts-based children’s museum located in downtown San Diego offering a unique opportunity for children to explore the world and exercise their imaginations through hands on engagement with contemporary art. Their innovative approach of commissioning artists to create participatory art installations is unique in the world of children’s museums and one that is getting them noticed in the arts and culture community. The Museum is currently featuring Feast: The Art of Playing With Your Food, an exhibition of 13 installations by local and regional artists that has received rave reviews and increased their attendance by over 30%.
Since opening in 2008, one-third of the Museum’s visitors have experienced educational programs, exhibits, camps and events free. These underserved children and their families come from social service agencies, Title 1 schools with little to no arts programming, and neighborhoods without a range of enrichment opportunities. In 2014, the Museum expects to serve over 50,000 people free of charge. This level of free access is possible only through the generosity of donors and sponsors who believe in the Museum’s mission and the role it serves in our community.
For the past several years, the Museum has graced our cover with photos of their nontraditional galas – always creative and innovative – just like the Museum itself. However, this year the Museum will not be doing that. Consistent with a trend we are seeing with many non-profit institutions, the Museum has decided to forgo its annual gala and focus its staff’s efforts on securing funding for their highest priority – free access programs. Executive Director and CEO, Julianne Markow, recently remarked, “It is clear from our rising attendance that San Diego’s families and their children are hungry to think, play, and create at The New Children’s Museum. Thinking beyond the gala allows us to redouble our efforts to spread the message about access and outreach.”
The Museum shared with us that they have created the Benefactor Challenge – a fundraising effort to raise $500,000 to provide access for nearly one-third of their visitors. A generous donor has come forward and agreed to match every donation of $5,000 or more – dollar for dollar. The matching funds will go into the Museum’s endowment to build for future sustainability. In lieu of the gala, the Museum will host a celebratory dinner for these donors on October 11th of this year – with no fundraising, auctions or any additional “ask” – just to say “thanks for your support.”