Executive Summary

2012: Oh the places we went!

This past year has been an extraordinary journey—one that further contributed to making the museum a premier destination as the biggest and best children's museum in the world.

As with any journey, it started with a plan—a roadmap to success. Following our strategic and annual plans, we not only got to where we wanted to go, we also outpaced last year's performance. From our enriching family learning experiences, to our collaborations with our supporters and our neighboring community, everything that encompassed the year's activities far exceeded expectations. Here are just a few highlights:

  • We outperformed our 2012 plan for museum attendance by 5.9 percent with more than 1.2 million visitors.
  • We welcomed 32,225 households as museum members.
  • We saw an increase of 12.8 percent in program participation compared to 2011.
  • The museum was named in the Top 12 Best Children's Museums by Forbes.com.
  • The museum’s endowment increased 10.3 percent and is ranked in the top quartile of endowment performance for the 3- and 5-year comparison periods.


Destination for Exploration and Transformation.

Hot Wheels For Real™ featured life-size versions of Hot Wheels cars including the famous Twin Mill.

Throughout the museum, visitors were free to let their imaginations soar with exciting transformative experiences.

Nine extraordinary family learning experiences, such as LEGO® Travel Adventure, The Adventures of MR. POTATO HEAD®, Hot Wheels For Real, and CSI: Flight Adventures, transported children and their families to places they'd never been before. Hot Wheels® For Real also taught children and their families the value of collecting while they viewed Hot Wheels® and created their own flashy cars. Updates to the Take Action area in The Power of Children exhibit sparked new interest. The Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House enjoyed another remarkable year, and Jolly Days was again a favorite attraction.

Four new transformative family learning experiences were being developed including the new Playscape and Big, Bad, & Bizarre (opening 2013), Take Me There:® China, and Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army (opening 2014).

Three new Lilly Theater shows dazzled visitors including Rumpelstiltskin, The Magic Snowman, and How I Became a Pirate, whichexperienced the highest attendance of any Lilly Theater performance ever.

Our first major online digital exhibition project, 100 Toys & Their Stories that Define Our Childhood, was an irresistible draw. The museum's online community shared over 600 stories and submitted more than 24,000 votes for their favorite toys, resulting in a community-curated display of the Top 20 Toys inside the museum.

School visits to the museum totaled 74,689, up from 2011.

International traveling exhibitions were also strong, with a booking rate of 100 percent for 2012.


Destination for Inspiration.

In 2012 the Children’s Museum Guild presented the inaugural Black Hat Bash—the city’s biggest and best family-friendly Halloween party.

We didn't make the journey alone. Through the ongoing support of our many adult and youth volunteers, board members, staff and interns, we reached new heights in 2012.

The Children's Museum Guild stepped up their commitment, once againhosting children and their families at the 49th annual Haunted House, as well as presenting a new and highly successful fundraiser, The Black Hat Bash.

Forty-eight interns traveled from far and wide to work alongside our professional staff and experience the power of learning firsthand. As a result, our intern program was recognized as one of the Top 10 nonprofit programs in the country.


Destination for Collaboration.

In 2012, the museum continued to be a hub for collaboration with the community.

The Winona Hospital property contiguous to the museum was secured from the City of Indianapolis. Demolition and environmental cleanup were completed and redevelopment moved forward.

The new Quality Of Life (QOL) Plan for the Mid-North Neighborhoods was completed and the museum is convening various partners for its implementation. Funded by the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), the plan will improve the six Mid-North neighborhoods surrounding the museum.


Destination for Activation.

The museum would not be the dynamic place that it is without the generous support of our donors, sponsors, and board of trustees and advisors.

The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation provided the museum an extraordinary and transformational gift of $1 million to support the development and implementation of a blockbuster exhibit, Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army.

Support from individual donors leapt well beyond of 2011 totals. Individual gifts were up 23 percent, and gifts from board members were up 49 percent.








Where will 2013 take the museum? We believe the best is yet to come. We will continue to be a world-class destination for transformative family learning experiences. With many exciting new exhibits and programs in the works, a neighborhood revitalization plan coming to life, and a growing presence around the world as well as on the Web, there are many exciting opportunities ahead. For the museum, the journey will never end but will forever continue to delight, inspire, and transform all those who make it their destination for family learning. 


Jeffrey H. Patchen
President and CEO

Phil Genetos
Board Chair