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Please Touch Museum has impacted the lives of millions of children and families, and our work has just begun.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman, American poet

Play is undoubtedly the most important work of childhood; it sets a child’s earliest foundation for the skills critical for success in school and throughout life. Play is who we are and what we do. As a cultural institution wholly devoted to this “work,” Please Touch Museum is an essential contributor to our collective future. We create purposeful play experiences for the children of today that will empower the thoughtful, creative, and compassionate adults of tomorrow. As families, communities, and society as a whole evolve, the need for institutions like ours is greater than ever. That’s why Please Touch Museum is evolving as well, and why our restated mission statement and promise are so vital to this process. Creating opportunities for early learning that develop the intellectual, social, and emotional skills a child needs is key to addressing an ever-widening achievement gap. Please Touch Museum must meet this increasing need by serving two essential functions: provide an engaging and inclusive epicenter for play, and empower and elevate conversations around the importance of play as essential to learning. Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play to Empower 21st Century Learners sets the framework that will propel the organization forward. We commit to being a leading 21st century children’s museum and understand the responsibility that mandate requires. We will grow as a resolute advocate and innovative engine of play and learning for children, their families and caregivers, teachers, researchers, and the community as a whole. With excitement for the years ahead and thanks for the continued support for our core mission, we are thrilled to share this new strategic direction with you. Yours in play,

Patricia D. Wellenbach President & CEO

Kristen Vieira Traynor Chair, Board of Trustees

Please Touch Museum will be a leader in 21st century children’s museums.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Across the United States, museums have

entered an era of a new learning landscape, and children’s museums in particular are facing an even greater need to respond to the confluence of societal changes and technological advances. There is a rapid increase in non-traditional forms of primary education, dissatisfaction with existing school systems, funding crises for schools, and a proliferation of digital content and digital delivery platforms that are transforming the nature of learning. The new learning landscape is redefining where, when, and how learning occurs, calling on innovative environments that support skill development and knowledge transfer that builds the capacity to work in a world where “how to know” is as important as “what to know.” Supporting this expanded view of how learning takes place is nurturing a set of foundational skills, anchored in children’s early social-emotional development. These executive function skills are key to early

brain development, building focus and selfcontrol, perspective taking, communication, and making connections. The next era of education will be characterized by selfdirected, experiential, social, and distributed learning that is designed to foster 21st century skills of critical thinking, synthesis of information, innovation, creativity, teamwork, and collaboration.

In Philadelphia, it is no different.

Philadelphia has the highest deep poverty rate of any major city in the U.S. and daunting educational challenges. Please Touch Museum (PTM) has been a place for children to learn through play since its beginnings in 1976. Now one of the nation’s premiere children’s museums, it has made a lasting impact on millions of lives. It is clear, however, that to have ongoing meaningful impact PTM is called to do more. The Museum is committed to the rights of all children to high-quality and developmentallyappropriate learning experiences, and as such it must play a greater role in providing those experiences and to help close the ever growing achievement gap.

As the Museum began 2016, it was clear that there was a pressing need for a new strategic plan that would set the course for the future. Having weathered some challenging financial struggles, retiring the debt, and putting a new management team in place, the time had come for Please Touch Museum to think expansively about its role as a leading 21st century children’s museum.

>>THE PROCESS Led by Michael Kaiser of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, the strategic planning process took over six months to complete, and the final plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in November of 2016. It was a highly collaborative, iterative process and included staff, the Board, visitors, funders, and other stakeholders vested in the Museum’s past and future. The work explored overall trends in museums and education regionally and nationally, and determined a defined implementation plan and financial projections to guide PTM through 2020.

>>THE OUTCOME Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play to Empower 21st Century Learners is a bold plan, organized around two paths of action: creating excellence in exhibits and educational programming, and building the financial capacity to support the Museum long term. Guiding the work in the years ahead is a new mission statement:

Change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play. Supporting this mission is our promise:

To be a leader in 21st century children’s museums as a key resource of learning through play, and expand our reach and impact in the Philadelphia region and beyond.


exhibits, programs, and education experiences.

● Integrate best practices and research-validated principles of childhood learning and development in the museum experience and educational programs.

● Develop partnerships and collaborations to achieve greater programmatic impact and broaden community engagement. ● Inspire people to discover Please Touch Museum again, or for the first time. ● Recruit, train, and retain staff who dream big and strive for excellence.

● Implement ongoing quality improvement evaluation to measure program impact and staff performance. ● Create an environment of inclusion for visitors and staff that values all individuals.

● Create opportunities to invest in PTM’s present and future. ● Demonstrate fiscal discipline in all actions and decisions to promote long-term sustainability. ● Be responsible stewards of Memorial Hall and good neighbors to the Parkside community.

The plan calls for Please Touch Museum to meet the intellectual, social, and emotional needs of children by providing:

CHILDREN a place to learn, develop and experiment PARENTS a place to learn about their children’s development TEACHERS a place to enhance their classrooms SCHOLARS a place to research and convene The PTM Board and staff are committed to the vision and direction of the plan. The Board is recruiting new members with broader experience and the diversity needed to be strategic and fiduciary advisors to management. They will be engaged in ongoing Museum advancement efforts and will enhance their role as ambassadors of PTM. Staff is working to restructure departments and hire individuals with the expertise required to deliver successfully on the goals of the plan.

With a focus on innovation in programs, enhancing and reimagining PTM’s exhibits, building a reputation for being first in class in customer experience, and implementing broad institutional marketing via multiple platforms, Please Touch Museum will build a national reputation for excellence for its family of visitors, members, educators, volunteers, and donors. To further ensure success, PTM has begun to create a culture of philanthropy to support PTM’s future. These efforts will build on existing relationships with funders who have supported the organization and create partnerships where they have not existed on a regional and national scale. PTM will expand opportunities for corporate relationships and cultivate a growing individual donor base. All these efforts will help ensure sustainability.

>>IN CLOSING Building on a legacy of 40 years of learning through play and understanding the critical importance of investing in our youngest learners, Please Touch Museum is committed to creating experiences for young children and families that will set a foundation for lifelong learning and success. The times demand such action and Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play to Empower 21st Century Learners positions the Museum to answer that call.

We are building a culture of excellence and sustainability.

Please Touch Museum will set a foundation for lifelong learning and success.



MISSION Change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play.

CRITICAL THINKING Expand awareness and understanding.

Child-ce learning commun creat collabora critical t

COLLABORATION Engage in social learning through interactivity.


PROMISE COMMUNICATION Practice verbal and non-verbal language to connect ideas and everyday life.

entered g fosters nication, tivity, ation, and thinking.

CREATIVITY Encourage exploration and spark curiosity with multi-sensory experiences.

To be a leader in 21st century children’s museums as a key resource of learning through play, and expand our reach and impact in the Philadelphia region and beyond.

PLEASE TOUCH MUSEUM 2017 Board of Directors OFFICERS Kristen Vieira Traynor, Chair Benjamin L. Johnson, Vice Chair Kate Shields, Secretary Sally W. Stetson, Immediate Past Chair Patricia D. Wellenbach, President & CEO

MEMBERS Christine Campbell Sharon Coghlan, Esq. Karen Griffith Gryga Barbara Klock, MD Christopher Scarpa Richard (Dick) Tewksbury, Jr. Regina M. Tracy Shawn Tuli Victoria Wilson

EMERITUS Nora Mead Brownell Elizabeth B. Cartmell Anne Hamilton Gie Liem Portia Sperr

EX OFFICIO 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., Council Representative, Philadelphia City Council, represented by Joshua Cohen, Special Assistant to the Majority Leader The Honorable Vincent Hughes, PA State Senator, represented by Marcella Daniels, Chief of Staff for Senator Vincent Hughes The Honorable Vanessa Lowery Brown, PA State Representative, represented by Violet Kenerly, Office Manager, of 190th Legislate District Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Philadelphia, represented by Tiffany W. Thurman, Chief of Staff, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Funding for Please Touch Museum’s strategic plan was made possible through the generous support of the William Penn Foundation.

4231 Avenue of the Republic • Philadelphia, PA 19131 215-581-3181 • www.PleaseTouchMuseum.org

Profile for Please Touch Museum

Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play for 21st Century Learners | Executive Summary  

This summary outlines the strategic vision of Please Touch Museum

Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play for 21st Century Learners | Executive Summary  

This summary outlines the strategic vision of Please Touch Museum