After receiving the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service—the nation’s highest honor for museum service in the community—The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis did not stop striving for excellence. Instead, the museum affirmed its commitment to its mission: to create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.
Throughout 2015, the museum continued making significant strides while initiating a bold new campaign to secure its world-class status for generations to come. The vision: to transform the museum’s exhibits, educational programs, and neighborhood projects for the future benefit of our members, visitors, partners, and community.
As we celebrated 90 years of creating transformative family-learning experiences, 2015 also realized many extraordinary achievements:
High attendance and record-setting membership
The museum continued to be one of the most-visited museums in North America. This past year, the museum welcomed 1,265,105 visitors, its second highest attendance on record. And membership was at an all-time high with 35,178 member households.
We were extremely pleased to be recognized again as one of the country’s leading destinations, as reflected by our 4.1 billion media impressions and many media accolades. Honors received in 2015 include:
- Top 20 Most-Visited Museums in the U.S. by USA Today
- Top 5 Science Museums in U.S. by FamilyFun Magazine
- Top 5 Regional Vacation Destinations Midwest by FamilyFun Magazine
- Top 5 Overall Vacation Destinations by FamilyFun Magazine
- 2015 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor
- Best Children’s Museum in the USA by Trekaroo
- One of 10 Best Children’s Museums in U.S. by Fodor Travel
Immersive exhibits presented through world-class partnerships
As in years past, we continued to collaborate with internationally known organizations to create the best in transformative learning experiences. These extraordinary partnerships enabled the museum to launch four major exhibits in 2015: National Geographic Sacred Journeys (National Geographic), Hot Wheels™: Race to Win™ (Mattel); Transformers: Robots in Disguise (Hasbro), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™: Secrets of the Sewer™ (Nickelodeon).
Outreach to neighborhoods and schools
The museum continued to provide transformative learning experiences to students while strengthening its ties to the community. The launch of the extraordinary Old National Bank Mid-North Promise Program was a major milestone in helping children and families achieve success from cradle to career.
Hosted the Association of Children’s Museums Conference
In May 2015, the museum was pleased to host the three-day international gathering InterActivity 2015. The conference theme focused attention on what it means to be a children's museum in a time of increasing connectivity through sessions on pedagogy, strategies to scaffold early learning, the latest developmental research, making as a learning process, and community engagement on the civic level.
A banner year for the Guild’s Haunted House
The Children’s Museum Guild put in many hours to make the 2015 Haunted House another huge success! The Guild made an all-time record donation of $677,422 and achieved the third-highest attendance on record with 64,972 visitors.
Solid financial performance
We reduced our endowment draw to 4.9% while maintaining our Aa3 credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service, thanks to the museum’s strong balance sheet, healthy liquidity, and market position.
There is immense pride for our 2015 accomplishments shared by everyone involved with the museum. Without the extraordinary efforts of our staff, board, volunteers, Guild, supporters, and partners, The Children’s Museum would not be the world-class organization it is today. To continue fulfilling our vision, we began work behind the scenes to realize the ambitious goals for a bold new comprehensive campaign—Extraordinary Transformations: The Campaign for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
In 2015, the campaign shifted from aspiration to actualization, as individuals, corporations, and organizations stepped up to support the impressive vision for the future of the biggest and best children’s museum in the world. The campaign’s four initiatives, detailed in the pages that follow, will provide extraordinary experiences that will transform the lives of children and families far into the future.
In this annual report, we celebrate the achievements of 2015 and the donors who made them possible, as well as those who gave in support of the initiatives of our Extraordinary Transformations campaign—initiatives that we proudly began unveiling in 2016!
Jeffrey H. Patchen
James D. Bremner