The New Pivot for The New Children’s Museum
Providing Art and Hope to Underserved Youth During the Pandemic
The prolonged closure at The New Children’s Museum has inspired a creative, new approach to bringing art and creativity into the community. After initially shifting to a virtual approach with online resources for families at home, the Museum’s latest pivot includes reaching deeper into the community with arts programming.
“It is critical that we continually rethink how to deliver on our mission with our doors closed,” Tomoko Kuta, Deputy Director shared with GB Magazine. “We have long-running partnerships with social service organizations, community centers and schools – and if they cannot come to us, we have to figure out a way to bring art and creativity to them.”
The arts-based children’s museum recently launched Think Play Create Learning Kits, which include standards-based lesson plans, links to instructional videos and art supplies needed for hands-on activities. The learning kits enable the Museum to continue serving organizations that participate in their group visit programs. They currently have commitments to create, assemble and deliver over 17,000 kits to organizations throughout San Diego by the end of this academic year. The Museum is aggressively seeking additional funding so they can increase the number of students and families reached through the program.
There are variations of the Think Play Create Learning Kits with projects and activities targeted at different ages and audiences. Recipients of the kits so far include families at 10 social service organizations through the Museum’s pARTners in Creativity program, seven community centers through their Mass Creativity program and thousands of students at Title I schools throughout the county. The Virtual School Visit program is in high demand; the Museum received requests for over 3,000 kits within 72 hours of announcing the program.
“The group visits to The New Children’s Museum were a highlight for the children and families of schools throughout the county,” said Amy Gray, Arts Education and Community Programs Manager who oversees a large portion of the Museum’s outreach efforts. “Many of the families we serve do not have access to art – or even own the most basic art supplies – so our learning kits have been extremely well received.”
November is when the Museum traditionally holds its annual Studio 200 Gala, which raises funds to support its access and outreach programs. Faced with the challenges of hosting events this year, the Museum will not be holding a physical or virtual fundraising event – instead, focusing all efforts on serving the community through the Learning Kit program. The Museum is reaching out to gala supporters and attendees for donations in lieu of purchasing tickets.
The Museum intends to reopen soon, and when capacity restrictions lift and allow for a larger number of visitors inside the highly interactive, hands-on museum.
Major support provided by The Dow Divas Investment Club, Institute of Museum and Library Services, California Arts Council, U.S. Bank and The New Children’s Museum Board of Directors. For more information about the Museum, visit www.thinkplaycreate.org.