A Year of Discovery
2013 was a year of discovery—for the museum, our visitors, and our partners in the community and around the globe. It was a year rich in new experiences—from the opening of Playscape and celebrations honoring Ruby Bridges and Anne Frank, to the appointment of retired astronaut Dr. David Wolf as our first-ever Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence, to the opening of Illinois Place apartments. Come along as we explore 2013’s significant events and you’ll find it truly was an extraordinary year!
Children, families, and schools explored and experienced the extraordinary.
On Aug. 31, 2013, we opened our all-new Playscape —a complete reinvention of the museum’s beloved gallery for infants through the preschool years. The new Playscape is based on the most current research on child development and is designed to help young children explore and achieve important developmental milestones. Playscape features include: a music studio that provides an opportunity for families to be musicians together using authentic instruments; an art studio with real artworks and artists materials where children and families can investigate drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage; Babyscape, an area for infants and toddlers filled with mirrors and other sensory experiences. You have to experience it yourself to truly appreciate everything this exciting new exhibit has to offer.
Superheroes: A SuperPOWered Spring Break
Our spring Superheroes exhibit showcased the superpowers of heroes and villains from contemporary pop culture and traditional world cultures—and demonstrated the strength of the museum’s collections as well. It also drove record-breaking Spring Break attendance and tapped the power of social media with a “Superpower Showdown” that pitted superheroes in head-to-head match-ups as visitors voted for their favorites on-site and online. In the end, Batman prevailed, and Superheroes turned spring break into a period of fun, learning, and exploration enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Record-setting Haunted House
In 2013, The Children’s Museum Guild celebrated its 50th anniversary Haunted House in record-setting style! Time Warp: 50 Years of Fear took visitors on a tour of five “deadcades” of pop culture. It proved so popular that it was attended by a record-setting 67,967 visitors and produced a record gift to the museum of more than $585,000. We are truly grateful for the Guild’s never-ending enthusiasm and dedication to The Children’s Museum and the Haunted House.
Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur
In 2013, one of the world’s most important fossils arrived at the museum in preparation for a new long-term exhibit opening in 2014—Leonardo: The Mummified Dinosaur. As one of the most complete and best-preserved dinosaur specimens in the world, Leonardo is a significant addition to our impressive Dinosphere® exhibit, and we are thrilled to be able to share such a rare fossil with our visitors.
Events celebrated extraordinary people and their achievements.
Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence Dr. David Wolf
In March 2013, we were over the moon when we announced the appointment of our first Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence, former NASA astronaut and Indiana native Dr. David Wolf. In addition to having explored space, Wolf is also a medical doctor, electrical engineer, and inventor. Dr. Wolf is using his rich expertise to assist staff and museum partners in developing new museum programs that will kindle passions among children for exploring the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.
Power of Children Events
Since 2007, the museum’s exhibit The Power of Children: Making a Difference® has prompted crucial conversations among parents and children, teachers and students, and children themselves about courage, tolerance, and acceptance. In 2013, the exhibit was at the center of three key events that made the past present in the lives of visitors.
- In 1960, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first black child to integrate a public school in New Orleans. Resistance to forced desegregation was fierce, and each day Ruby had to be escorted to school by a team of four U.S. marshals. On Sept. 5, 2013, Bridges was reunited at The Children’s Museum with the only one of the marshals still living—Charles Burks. The pair sat in The Power of Children’s replica of Ruby’s classroom and reflected on their role in the nation’s story. Their conversation was videotaped for display in the exhibit.
- The April 14 planting of a sapling of the horse chestnut tree that Anne Frank wrote about in her diary was another emotion-filled moment of 2013. This symbol of peace blooms in the museum’s Anne Frank Peace Park. The Children’s Museum was one of 11 locations selected by The Anne Frank Center USA to receive a sapling based on our continuing commitment to teaching about tolerance. The museum provided care for several of the sapling through the generosity of Dow AgroSciences.
- Ryan White made a difference in his battle against HIV/AIDS, and he is another child whose story is featured in our Power of Children exhibit. In 2013, his mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, partnered with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to take a stand against bullying at a special Stand Up Against Bullying Summit. She spoke to 350 local students from public, private, and charter schools about the importance of accepting people’s differences.
China People-to-People Exchange
As the world’s largest children’s museum, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis had the pleasure of taking part in the 2013 US-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange held in Washington, D.C., in November 2013. The event was co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Mme. Liu Yandong, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. We were honored to be one of only a handful of presenters reviewing private sector initiatives that are making a significant impact on Chinese-American relationships. The museum presented its then-upcoming 2014 exhibits Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army and Take Me There:® China as prime examples of positive cross-cultural programs that familiarize people with the rich culture of China and its people. Also, at the Symposium on China-American Cultural Exchange and Cooperation held in New York City, the museum further cemented its partnership with China by signing one of just five cultural cooperation agreements between Chinese and American institutions.
Community connections produced new initiatives.
Illinois Place Opening
In December 2013 the Mid-North community officially welcomed Illinois Place Apartments, a 50-unit housing complex and green space that opened on the site of the former Winona Hospital. We’re proud of our public-private partnership with the City of Indianapolis and TWG Development, LLC, which brought this project to fruition—turning what was once an eyesore into a viable and valuable housing asset. We take great pleasure in working with the community on projects that make our neighborhood a place in which families thrive and live with pride.
Launch of Museum Online History Project
For more than 88 years, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has been sharing stories of success and inspiring our community’s children and families with transformational experiences. Now the story of those experiences can be accessed online, thanks to our Online History Project. Unveiled in July 2013, this exciting new website takes visitors on a journey from 1925 to the present, helping them understand what motivated museum leaders to create an institution that is now a world leader in family learning.
Museum advancements exceeded expectations.
Grants Open Future Learning Opportunities
In 2013, the museum received four remarkable grants to develop new learning experiences. Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the museum a $1.25 million grant to develop a future exhibit on religions of the world. NASA awarded $675,000 to help launch an International Space Station-themed exhibit called Curious Scientific Investigator (CSI): Beyond Spaceship Earth. The museum also received a grant of $211,612 from The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and $100,000 from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust to help continue our work with neighborhood families to create extraordinary cradle-to-career and out-of-school learning programs as part of the Mid-North Neighborhood Quality of Life Plan.
A Year for Accolades
In 2013, the museum received some outstanding accolades from national media outlets. USA Today honored us as one of 10 Great Family-Friendly Museums, and we received other top honors, including being named one of the Top 10 Cultural Finds of 2013 by Cultural Traveler and one of the 10 Best Museums in the Country by 10Best.com. We also were pleased to be recognized as a must-see for a Fun and Educational Vacation by U.S. News and World Report.
Robust Financial Performance
In 2013 the museum’s endowment grew by 16.6% and ranked in the top quartile of endowment performance for the 3- and 5-year periods. The museum also maintained its Aa3 credit rating by Moody’s Investors Services based on its strong balance sheet, healthy liquidity, and market position.
Together, with the support of our members, donors and volunteers, we made 2013 a year of tremendous discovery for children, families, and schools—reaching over 1.2 million visitors on-site and making over 1.8 billion media impressions around the globe. Together, we gave our visitors glimpses of the past, insights into the present, and visions of the future unparalleled. With your sustained support, we will continue to fulfill our mission to create extraordinary learning experiences that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.
Jeffrey H. Patchen