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“THE FIRST FIVE YEARS HAVE SO MUCH TO DO WITH HOW THE NEXT 80 TURN OUT.” – Bill Gates The American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 study, entitled “The Power of Play,” highlighted the Academy’s research on the cognitive benefits that play has on children. The Academy’s research data asserted that “play is fundamentally important for learning 21st century skills, such as problem solving, collaboration, and creativity...that are critical for adult success.” There is a growing body of evidence in early childhood learning and development that demonstrates that children need to play. But you don’t have to tell this to the 500,000 children (and adults) who bound through the doors of the Please Touch Museum every year. Once inside, they discover a world created solely for them. In this world of play they discover new things, explore new ideas, and create and build confidence in themselves and their potential. In these playful moments, as magical and as fun as they are, children are also learning. They are developing the skills that will help them get ready to learn in the classroom and in life. They are also meeting and making new friends, often encountering children from diverse families and communities. Their grown-ups often play alongside them, discovering ways to engage with their children that will last long after their Museum visit is over. Please Touch Museum takes play seriously, referring to it as “playing with purpose.” It was with this in mind that the Museum leadership, board and staff, came together to create our next strategic plan, Please Touch Museum 2023: Elevating Play Learning Together. The plan defines a bold new vision for PTM, “a world where all children are creative, compassionate, confident and curious.” We hope the plan will inspire you to join us as we create new and exciting ways to make this vision a reality. We believe we can change the world, and starting with young children is the key to it all. Yours in play,

Patricia D. Wellenbach President & CEO

Benjamin L. Johnson Chair, Board of Trustees



Since 1976, Please Touch Museum (PTM) has been an integral part of growing up in Philadelphia. From a small space on the Parkway in the Academy of Natural Sciences, then to its location on 21st Street and now to its current home in Fairmount Park, PTM has welcomed almost three generations of children and families to a place where learning through play happens every day. With over four decades of experience behind it, Please Touch Museum’s staff and board began to look ahead to the next three years where they knew there were opportunities for continued growth and evolution. When considering what they wanted to achieve by 2023, they knew PTM needed to be ready for reaccreditation by The American Alliance of Museums in 2022 and the possibility of an array of citywide events in 2026 for the 250th celebration of America’s founding. PTM also knew that the bold work that has occurred at the Museum since the January 2017 launch of PTM 2020: Reimagining Play to Empower 21st Century Learners would encourage them not to be afraid to think big. As they delved into the process, they asked questions that included: • How might Please Touch Museum best meet the evolving needs and expectations of its visitors? • What types of experiences will help today’s children grow and develop? •


What investments in physical space should be made so that the exhibits and setting continue to feel fresh and welcoming?

• • •

How does Please Touch Museum communicate its value and purpose in a crowded market? Do all employees and stakeholders believe in and feel invested in Please Touch Museum’s work? How can the Museum create a space where children and their caregivers can find community in an increasingly diverse and complex world?

Ultimately, the Museum leadership arrived at the following overarching question that was foundational to how it began to consider its future: What does Please Touch Museum need to do to become a “must have” organization in Philadelphia, instead of a “nice to have?”

Please Touch Museum 2023: Elevating Play Learning Together affirms PTM’s mission statement: To change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play. It commits to a new vision statement: A world where all children are creative, compassionate, confident and curious. It unveils a new set of values: Curiosity, Engagement, Community, Excellence. Lastly, it establishes for the Museum four overarching goals:


The Museum addressed those and other questions that arose during the six-month discernment process. As a result, the new strategic plan builds upon the answers to those questions and the work completed over the past three years. The plan offers a promising path forward for Please Touch Museum and its stakeholders. If PTM’s mission is truly going to be realized, then the Museum must find opportunities to elevate the importance of play and must create opportunities for children to engage in learning together, with other children, with their families and with their communities. The Museum believes this strategic plan is the call to action needed to achieve its mission and more.


PTM 2023: ELEVATING PLAY LEARNING TOGETHER PTM 2023 builds upon Please Touch Museum’s commitment to engage and partner with the community, offering unique Museum experiences and programs that advance the power of learning through play. It sets Please Touch Museum apart as a world class leader in early childhood learning and development. Please Touch Museum has articulated four goals to guide the Museum over the next three years. Three “impact” goals are focused externally and address the positive influence that PTM has on its visitors, community partners, and the childhood learning and development field at large. The fourth goal is “foundational” and is focused on building the Museum’s internal strength, resiliency and adaptability.




Please Touch Museum inspires children and families to have fun and dream big.

Please Touch Museum is welcoming and inclusive.

Please Touch Museum is a leader in childhood learning and development.


We are committed to developing exhibits and programs that empower learning in a place where all visitors are valued, respected, and appreciated.


We are committed to reflecting, supporting and celebrating the diversity of all individuals, families and communities.


We are committed to advancing new discoveries and advocating to ensure children grow up to be healthy, fulfilled adults.


STRENGTHEN THE ORGANIZATION Please Touch Museum is strong, resilient and adaptable. We are committed to investing in our people and operations, so that together we can fulfill our mission to change children’s lives with the power of learning through play and be a best-in-class Museum.


PTM2023’s goals are designed to move Please Touch Museum closer to realizing its new vision and achieving its mission. As the Museum looks ahead to 2023, it is excited to build upon past successes and move toward an even more dynamic and meaningful future.

Success will require collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. These are skills the Museum staff focus on when developing exhibits, programming and defining a best-in-class visitor experience.





Benjamin L. Johnson, Chair Kate Shields, Vice Chair Christine Campbell, Chair-Elect Nikki DiCaro, CFO, Treasurer Patricia D. Wellenbach, President and CEO


David Davis Karen Griffith Gryga Kristen Han Ron Koch Arianna Orpello Lewko Sara C. McGowan Angela Monaco Aisling Murphy Christyn Rossman Tracey Santilli Christopher Scarpa Steven A. Singh Salima Suswell Richard (Dick) Tewksbury, Jr. Shawn Tuli


Elizabeth B. Cartmell Sharon Coghlan, Esq. Anne Hamilton Portia Sperr, Founder, Please Touch Museum Sally W. Stetson


The Honorable James Kenney, Mayor, City of Philadelphia, represented by Kelly Lee, Chief Cultural Officer, City of Philadelphia The Honorable Darrell Clarke, President, Philadelphia City Council, represented by The Honorable Curtis Jones, Jr., Philadelphia City Council, represented by Joshua Cohen, Chief of Staff to Councilman Jones The Honorable Vincent Hughes, PA State Senator, represented by Marcella Daniels, Chief of Staff for Senator Vincent Hughes Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Philadelphia, represented by Tiffany W. Thurman, Chief of Staff, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation * As of January 1, 2020 9

4231 Avenue of the Republic • Philadelphia, PA 19131 215-581-3181 •

Profile for Please Touch Museum

Executive Summary  

Executive Summary