Children's Museums Respond

Children’s Museums Respond to the Death of George Floyd and Ongoing Demonstrations

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Starting in late May, demonstrations have unfolded throughout the United States—and around the world—in response to the death of George Floyd, seeking an end to racist systems that oppress Black people and people of color.

Children’s museums have a responsibility to the children and families in their communities. This time is an upsetting one, and children feel this keenly. Over the past few days, many children’s museums have shared statements responding to the protests and sharing resources for caregivers to talk about race and racism with their children. We share these statements and resources here.

This list is incomplete. Please contact ACM to add your children’s museum. Last updated July 1, 2020.

Minnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul)

Minnesota Children’s Museum mourns the death of George Floyd and would like to express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We are further saddened by the scenes of destruction we wake up to each morning.

Our organization values racial equity. We work toward equitable outcomes for members of racial and ethnic groups. We know that people of color and indigenous people in Minnesota experience levels of socioeconomic, legal and educational inequality that are among the worst in the nation.

Children in our community feel what’s happening. The museum wants to do what we can to support families. Please know that play helps. Play reduces anxiety. Play mitigates the effects of toxic stress. Play brings people together.

Read the full statement.

Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito, CA)

The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery—three names in a too long list of others—have prompted all of us at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) to reflect on our role in our community and the values that guide us. We create play-based experiences that help young children and their families explore and make sense of their world. Right now, as we see families hurting, across our region and the country, that work feels especially daunting and also more important than ever. We are committed to doing the work to be a more inclusive and responsive community organization—to educating ourselves, to listening to the voices of our community, and to using our resources and power to tackle the inequities that divide and hurt us.

Read the full statement.

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum (Milwaukee, WI)

The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum believes that equity is foundational. We stand with the black community and those seeking transformative change against racism.

The Museum remains committed to providing inspiring and safe spaces for all children and families to play. We celebrate diversity and all that we can learn from one another to create a better, kinder world for our children. As lifelong learners, we have much to discover and much to do. Let’s do it together.

Read the full statement.

Boston Children’s Museum (MA)

The killing of George Floyd unleashed a deep anguish, not just in the Black community, but across humanity, sparking protests around the world.  The determination to be heard, to demand justice and recognition of a people’s humanity superseded the risk of becoming ill with the coronavirus.  In fact, we are reminded that in this nation, racism, has been and continues to be the most pervasive pandemic in our American story. …

At this moment, we need to keep our children close and show them our ever-present unconditional love. Even the youngest children have a keen sense of fairness and right and wrong so we can talk to them honestly about justice in a way that is appropriate for their age and stage of development.

Read the full statement.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum (NY)

Today, Brooklyn Children’s Museum makes the following commitment to our community:

1. In all that we do, we will acknowledge and recognize that BCM exists in a historically Black neighborhood and that we owe a debt of gratitude to our community, mostly people of color, who have nurtured and sustained our institution for 120 years.

2. Understanding our role as a community anchor, BCM will work to open its doors to families as soon as it is safe. Stay tuned for more information about programming and performances on BCM’s roof as soon as the PAUSE is lifted.

3. We will continue to create experiences that ignite curiosity, celebrate identity and cultivate joyful learning. We will do this in an explicitly anti-racist way, in partnership and solidarity with our community.

Read the full statement.

Cayton Children’s Museum and Sharewell (Santa Monica, CA)

As an institution dedicated to guiding children, youth and families to work together toward justice and expanded possibilities in their communities, we have a responsibility to speak up. All children, but especially Black children and other children of color, are traumatized by racism and inequality in our society. And, in times like these, they sense the fear and uncertainty felt by their grownups.  
 
We know it is never too early to start honest, age-appropriate discussions with children about these issues. Our goal is to help you in your efforts to have these difficult but essential conversations. 

Real the full statement.

Chicago Children’s Museum (IL) and Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago (Glenview, IL)

38 Chicago-area organizations coordinated to share this statement from Chicago Community Trust, along with coordinated messaging.

As cultural organizations serving the people of Chicago, we stand in unified opposition to racism and injustice. We must each wrestle with the persistent stain of systemic inequality and its devastating impacts on our staff, members, guests and neighbors.

See Chicago Children’s Museum’s post and Kohl Children’s Museum’s post.

Children’s Creativity Museum (San Francisco, CA)

To create, play, and learn, one must first feel safe.

The Children’s Creativity Museum stands with Black children, caregivers, educators, and the entire Black community.

We ask our visitors to use their imagination to envision a future they would like to live in. In order to create the inclusive and equitable future we hope for, we must first actively speak and take action against the structural racism that holds us back.

#BlackLivesMatter

Read the full statement.

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose (CA)

As a children’s museum, we are in the unique position to combat historical and systemic racism by promoting diversity, tolerance, inclusion, and cultural competence that starts with our community’s children. We want to help your family navigate these times in a hopeful and honest way that honors your children’s fears, curiosity, and anxiety. The goal for each of us should be to better understand the racial realities of the world and commit to what role we can all play in healing these wounds.

Read the full statement.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta (GA)

Children’s Museum of Atlanta believes that play fosters learning, and playing in an environment that exposes us to new ideas, beliefs, or values can teach us to appreciate and understand our differences and to celebrate our commonalities. In many ways, Children’s Museum of Atlanta serves as a ‘town square’ where all families are able to safely gather, connect, and learn together. We look forward to welcoming families back into our space and will continue to work towards mutual understanding, opportunities for open communication and exploration, and equitable outcomes for members of all racial and ethnic groups.

Read the full statement.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (IN)

We believe Ruby Bridges said it best: “Racism is a grown-up disease.”

Talking about racism, prejudice, and discrimination can be uncomfortable. If we want to see real change in our world, we cannot shy away from these difficult conversations with our children. Through our words and actions, we must teach our children to be kind, compassionate, and caring to everyone.

Read the full statement.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (NY)

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan condemns racism of all kinds. We are both town square and city park, a safe place for families of diverse backgrounds to gather side-by-side and learn together and from each other. What is happening now, and historically to the black community, is anathema to all we stand for.

By three years old, children have already absorbed notions of bias from those around them. Our job is to support families in raising open-hearted citizens. Over the next days and weeks, CMOM will be developing new initiatives that we can incorporate into our online Parenting in Place and CMOM at Home programming.

Read the full statement.

Children’s Museum of Richmond (VA)

Our mission is to inspire growth in all children by engaging families in learning through play. We strive to be a place that provides equitable solutions for our community as a safe space for all families. We want our community, especially the members of our community who have been oppressed for far too long, to know that we are here for your children and family.

Children are experiencing stress during this time. The value of play cannot be underestimated for our youngest citizens; play reduces stress and brings people together. As families are looking for ways to talk to children about what is happening in Richmond and across the country, we want to help make resources available. Visit our blog for articles, activities, and books your family can use.

Read the full statement.

DISCOVERY Children’s Museum (Las Vegas, NV)

Talking about race, although hard, is necessary.

If we wish to inspire the change we want to see in the world, we need to engage in these difficult conversations with our children today.

See the full statement.

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum (Salt Lake City, UT)

We at Discovery Gateway are incredibly saddened by the death of George Floyd and all acts of racial injustice. At Discovery Gateway it is our mission to inspire ALL children to imagine, discover, and connect with their world to make a difference. As a children’s museum, we are committed to bringing families together, celebrating diversity, being a catalyst for inclusion, and offering a platform for all communities to have a voice and teach our children.

Read the full statement.

Discovery Place (Charlotte, NC)

While we are saddened to see the physical damage to the building, we realize there is a much deeper hurting across our community and country. Our windows can be repaired but a much longer process lies ahead to change the systemic issues that are fueling these events. We remain committed to helping Charlotte become a better community for everyone.

Read the full statement.

Glazer Children’s Museum (Tampa, FL)

We are heartbroken by the trauma occurring across our country in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. As a children’s museum, we want to speak to parents at this moment.

We often help children cope with traumatic events by referencing the advice of Fred Rogers to ‘look for the helpers.’ In times like this, it may be difficult to know who the helpers are. So, with respect to Mr. Rogers, today let’s be the helpers. For many children in our community right now, connecting to the world around them feels scary. It feels frustrating and confusing. But it is our job as adults to help our kids navigate the scary and learn to be helpers.

Read the full statement.

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (MI)

A message from our CEO, Maggie Lancaster

In addition to the damage to our building and to those of our downtown neighbors, our community woke up this morning with more questions than answers.

One thing is certain: loss of property pales in comparison to loss of human life. We understand that there is a lot of hurt within our community, and this knowledge bolsters our commitment to our mission and the important work of the museum. The need for play and the benefits that come through play are needed now more than ever. Open-ended play experiences, like the ones we’ve provided for nearly twenty-three years, have been proven to be effective interventions against chronic toxic stress, as well as proven tools for building empathy, self-love, and interpersonal communication skills. We are an incredible community, coming together to collectively prioritize the needs of children and families, especially those affected by systemic injustice.

Read the full statement.

Kidspace Children’s Museum (Pasadena, CA)

Kidspace Children’s Museum condemns the violence and injustice that systemic racism inflicts on our communities, families and children. Black lives matter. As we prepare to reopen as a place of welcome and healing, we are collaborating with community partners to listen, learn, and together build an inclusive, anti-racist environment where all children are invited to play, create, grow, and thrive.

Read the full statement.

KidsPlay Children’s Museum (Torrington, CT)

KidsPlay values all members of our community, especially those impacted by the traumatic effects of racism, violence, and discrimination. We stand in solidarity with the Black community and all other minorities and people of color to speak out against racism and injustice. We are committed to lifelong learning, positive change, and creating space for empathy, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. We will continue to work with our community to do our part towards a peaceful and inclusive future.

Read the full statement

KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Bellevue, WA)

As an educational institution, it always has and will be our mission to support families. During this time, we are standing with all black children and families. Conversations about race should start at home and using books as a tool to start those discussions can be a great resource. We have included two links that provide a variety of books that can help children of all ages see the faces of people that look like them or don’t and can be a step towards your learning journey. #blacklivesmatter 

Read the full statement.

Madison Children’s Museum (WI)

The damage and violence in our city is frightening and discouraging, but we should not let it diminish from the message of the peaceful demonstration, which drew much larger crowds earlier in the day. We stand with those who are demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to the systemic racism and white supremacy plaguing our country. This scourge diminishes every community’s capacity to raise whole, happy, healthy children.”

There’s much work to be done. As an organization deeply invested in creating a more just society, where all children and families can play and learn together, and as a cornerstone of our downtown, we will stay active in the conversation and the work. Please stay safe.

Read the full statement.

The New Children’s Museum (San Diego, CA)

The New Children’s Museum embraces cultural diversity and welcomes children and families from all walks of life. We are united with our colleagues across the U.S. through the Association of Children’s Museums in being a safe and friendly place where we value people of all ages, abilities, races, ethnicities and economic circumstances. We are committed to being a community resource, both within our Museum as well as in economically and culturally diverse communities throughout San Diego.

Read the full statement.

Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum (IL)

The Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum believes in celebrating the diversity of Central Illinois and in providing opportunities for ALL children to become explorers and creators of the world, no matter their race, income, or background. Parents bear the responsibility of educating their children about race and racial injustice; PlayHouse staff want to support parents in this critical work by providing resources and programs to help. Your children are never too young to have a conversation about race. Teach them to speak out against injustice and fight for those whose voices are squandered by the systemic inequalities written into the fabric of our nation.

Play Africa (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Play Africa stands against racism. We stand against all forms of injustice and inequality that Black people have faced and continue to face in South Africa, and around the world. We loudly and proudly proclaim that Black lives matter.

We believe using our platforms to learn, and to promote ubuntu, understanding, compassion and justice. We strive to create real, positive and lasting impact to help create a world where racism and injustice no longer limit abundant human potential.

Read the full statement.

Port Discovery Children’s Museum (Baltimore, MD)

We are heartbroken by the grief, pain and trauma that all of our community and our country are experiencing in the wake of the recent death of George Floyd. Far too often, people of color experience racism, injustice and numerous socioeconomic, legal, and educational inequalities – and we stand with and behind our visitors, members, staff and community who are experiencing hurt and sadness as a result.  

Children in our community see and feel what is happening. This is a time to see their pain, help them understand and cope with it, and help them learn. And, in the spirit of Mr. Rogers—who suggested that children “look for the helpers”—we are here for you, we are listening, and we want to help.  

Read the full statement.

Portland Children’s Museum (OR)

We believe that human rights are universal and embrace humanity in all of its diversity. Therefore, Portland Children’s Museum reaffirms its commitment to:

• Amplify action for social justice on behalf of children and their rights to be safe, protected, and educated.
• Work toward an inclusive future in which societal institutions reinforcing systemic racism are replaced by ones that are open and accessible to all.
• Listen with an open heart and mind, with empathy, to families of every race, religion, and cultural background, so that their stories find expression and power.

Read the full statement.

Providence Children’s Museum (RI)

Children’s museums serve not only as a place for play and joy, but to provide guidance and support. It is our role to support children and their caregivers as they navigate these feelings, and we have curated resources on our social media pages to speak to children about racism, trauma, violence, and activism.   

We will always work towards greater equity and justice as that is the ultimate support for children.

Read the full statement.

Resources:

6 Books That Can Help You Talk to Your Child About Race and Diversity, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Addressing Racial Injustice with Young Children, EmbraceRace
By Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

An Activity Book For African American Families: Helping Children Cope with Crisis, National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids, The Center for Racial Justice in Education 

Social Justice Resources, Glazer Children’s Museum

Talking about Race, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Talking to Children About Racial Bias, HealthyChildren.org
By ​​​Ashaunta Anderson, MD, MPH, MSHS, FAAP and Jacqueline Dougé, MD, MPH, FAAP

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup, Pretty Good Design

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. Follow ACM on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.