Philadelphia “Please Touch” Museum is the 2013 The Children in Museums Award Winner.
The Children in Museums Award has been established by the European Museum Academy and Hands On! International for the recognition of excellence in the specific sector of international children’s museums. For the 2013 Award applications were welcomed from children’s museums and from education, children and youth departments in museums and science museums, both long-established and recently opened.
2013 Children in Museums Award winner
The name of the winner of the 2013 Award was announced on Wednesday 27 March 2013 during a Ceremony organized in co-operation with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and with the support of the Carisbo Bank Foundation – Genus Bononiae. The winner of this year is the “Please Touch” Museum of Philadelphia (USA). Founded by Montessori educator Portia Sperr with the mission of enriching the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play, the museum is very much a part of the Philadelphia region’s arts and culture community. The theatre is a key component of the museum’s activities and year-round daily performances provide a number of original and highly interactive shows.
A Special Mention went to the Drents Archief – Operatie Sigismund in the town of Assen (NL).
2103 Children in Museums Award: Please Touch Museum wins the competition
In a glittering ceremony in the Salla della Cultura at the Museum of the History of Bologna,
the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, USA was announced as the winner off the
2013 Children’s Museum Award. The trophy was presented to Lynn McMaster by the
President of the Carisbo Foundation, Professor Fabio Roversi Monaco. The meeting was
held with the co-operation of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and with the support of the
Carisbo Bank Foundation-Genus Bononiae.
The judges said: “The commitment of the Please Touch Museum to children aged 1-7 is
particularly remarkable. All too often the capacity of very young children to absorb
information and experiences is overlooked by museums. The theatre programme is
particularly useful in this regard and learning by participation and play means that the
memory retains more information than mere passive observation. Praise is also due to the
activities which take place outside the walls of the museum.”
The trophy is a bronze statue of Miffy, the universally known creation of Dick Bruna, whose
books are translated into more than 50 languages. The sculptor is Bruna’s son Marc, and
this is the only existing scale model of the original statue in Utrecht, donated to the author’s
home town by the Soroptimist Club Utrecht. Miffy stands for encouraging creativity, fantasy,
freedom of thinking and child friendliness, and is a symbol which appeals to all children.
A Special Commendation was given to Drents Archief at Assen in the Netherlands. The
division between museums and archives has become less clear-cut in recent years and the
decision of the provincial archive at Assen to establish a permanent space to show children
the functions of an archive and what its problems are is a huge step in narrowing the gap
between the two. In highlighting this work the judges hope that the unusual but very effective
method used by Drents Archief will encourage other archives to follow its example.
Download the Judges’ Report
Information on the Award
The Children in Museums Award was established by the European Museum Academy and
Hands On! International for the recognition of excellence in the sector of international
children’s museums. The Jury looks especially for the creative use of exhibitions and
programmes with an innovative interpretative approach, which should be meaningful to the
relevant age-group up to 14 years old. An important consideration is to investigate how a
candidate is likely to change the course of museum thinking or museum practice in these
respects, nationally and internationally.
The European Museum Academy (EMA) is a non-profit foundation established to reflect
museums at the international level, to promote research on museography and museology as
a high cultural activity, to provide constructive criticism and promote discussion on new
exhibitions and museums, and to diffuse museological knowledge and ideas among
members of the profession. It aims to promote the conception and development of new as
well as of traditional museums as tools of social change. Thirty countries are currently
represented within the EMA organisation. EMA co-operates with Hands On! International for
this Award. EMA members of the Jury of the Award are also members of the EMA Pool of
Hands On! International (HO!I), the Association of Children’s Museums, is the professional
organisation representing and advocating for its non-profit member institutions. It actively
stimulates the creation and development of children’s museums (including science centres,
large collections based institutions serving young visitors) and more space for cultural and
educational activities for children and young people. HO!I supports the important role of
children’s museums as centres where play inspires creativity, informal and lifelong learning.