The New Children’s Museum

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Always something NEW

A few years ago, The New Children’s Museum explored changing their name. After conducting research, the Museum determined that they should remain The New Children’s Museum. The word “new” provides an opportunity to explain their “new” approach (focus on contemporary art) and supports that there is always something “new” to discover upon visiting. With their swift pivot to an expanded online presence in the pandemic’s “new” normal, having “new” in their name seems especially justified.

When the Museum temporarily closed on March 16, one of their first challenges was to develop a plan to maintain their relevancy. They wanted to continue to be a resource for their members and the community, and had to rethink the delivery of their mission. Within the first week of the closure, they launched #thinkplaycreatefromhome to engage children with creative and educational online resources at home – a completely “new” approach for the downtown museum.

At this writing, the Museum is heading into week 9 of the closure, and has introduced over 35 art-inspired coloring/activity pages, dozens of design challenges, DIY videos and multiple toddler-focused segments with sing-alongs, story time and art activities. They have partnered with various San Diego organizations, including the Padres, Cox Communications and SDG&E, to create some of their engaging creative resources.

The museum hosts live talks (via Zoom) every Tuesday on topics relevant to caregivers. Each starts with a Museum staff member or expert talking about how to instill creativity and play at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is followed by a group discussion for caregivers to connect and share ideas with one another and Museum staff.

The Museum recently introduced All About Art, a series of virtual art experiences through their interactive art installations. The videos feature mascots Art (the songbird) and Play (the fox), as they take children on imaginative tours through the Museum to discover fun facts about the installations. New virtual art experiences are introduced every few weeks.

The Museum also adapted their annual outreach effort, Mass Creativity, from being out in the community to being in the virtual space. They recently launched El Más Allá, a four-week virtual experience where participants work with artist-in-residence Panca to create an imaginary world. Virtual workshop attendees are asked by the artist to provide input and ideas, which will help develop her new art installation in the fall. The Mass Creativity program is made possible in part by IMLS, the Dow Divas, U.S. Bank and Cox Communications.

Lastly, the Museum is hosting Little Learning from Home, a four-week enrichment online class for toddlers (ages 15 months to three years) and their caregivers, presented by La Jolla Country Day School.

As a nonprofit that relies on a steady stream of visitors, The New Children’s Museum is currently experiencing a financial hardship. They made the challenging decision in late March to place many of their staff on furlough, reduce pay for remaining staff and make significant budget cuts. To help during this time, the Museum has launched the reNEWing Hope campaign, raising funds so they can continue to provide creative online resources as well as help them as they prepare for their eventual reopening. For more information, visit www.thinkplaycreate.org.

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Kamran Saeed
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