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  • Writer's pictureAmarinda Keys


Amarinda and Joni at the welcoming ceremonies

The Association of Children’s Museums is an international organization of children’s museums with a mission to support and advocate on behalf of the children’s museum industry. There are more than 470 members in 50 states and 16 countries, and the Children’s Discovery Museum is one of them! Each year, the Association coordinates a week-long conference to connect museum professionals to share ideas, learn, and network. Children’s Discovery Museum Executive Director Amarinda Keys has attended this conference twice in the past and just came back from her third experience this past May!

This year’s conference, entitled InterActivity 2022: PLAY The Long Game, was hosted in partnership with The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum (MO). One of the evenings that week, The Magic House hosted a party for all of the attendees where we got to see their museum and PLAY!

Amarinda testing our an exhibit at the Magic House

Amarinda attended with Western Play Museum Executive Director Joni, and they both left the conference feeling inspired!

Here are Amarinda’s biggest takeaways:

1. The importance of collecting community feedback. Children’s museums exist to serve their communities. A recurring theme in the workshops was the importance of regularly checking in with your community whether informally or through thorough fact-finding during a strategic plan. This way, we can know that we are serving the community in the way that it needs. When the Children’s Discovery Museum first embarked on this expansion project, we held a series of forums, focus groups and surveys to help inform the exhibit design. Now, as we start to put together the slate of programming for the museum once the facility is complete, the museum team is excited to reach out to the community for feedback using some of the tools Amarinda learned about in St. Louis.

2. The strength of our collaborations. The museum is proud of all the collaborations we have built and strengthened, especially these past few years. During the conference, Amarinda attended a workshop specifically about how to work with others in a meaningful and productive way. Working with other groups allows us to increase our reach, connect with new folks in the community, and accomplish so much more than we could do alone. We look forward to continuing to connect with our partners!

3. Don’t eat shrimp at the airport. Amarinda got food poisoning the first night in Saint Louis! Luckily she was fine before the conference started. Phew!

While most of the attendees were from museums much bigger than the Children's Discovery Museum, Joni and Amarinda were able to find a few other folks from smaller museums! Below, Amarinda is with Jessica from Cognition in North Carolina, Joni, and Dinora from Explorium Denton Children's Museum in Texas.

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