What sets The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh apart from other institutions around the country? An investment in talent rather than stuff.
Since its expansion in 2004, the museum has grown exponentially, jumping from 86K to 150K visitors in a single year. Today, the museum hosts 305K onsite visitors annually in addition to the 50K people it serves through outreach and the remarkable 1M people who attend its traveling exhibits at other museums, children’s hospitals and libraries. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s wise investment in the teams who design and produce those exhibits results in a unique experience for visitors and an additional income stream for the museum itself.
Jane Werner joined The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh 26 years ago, and she has served as its Executive Director since 1999. Jane leads the team responsible for all facets of the museum’s mission and vision, including exhibits, public programming, funding, and operations. Under Jane’s leadership, the museum had continued to grow and expand its reach through partnerships with other northside cultural institutions, earning recognition from Parents magazine as one of the 10 Best Children’s Museums in the country.
In part two, Jane speaks to the factors that prompted the museum’s significant growth. She walks us through the concept of the traveling exhibit, outlining the seven currently on the road. Jane shares the mission of The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, discussing how initiatives like the Charm Bracelet Project promote collaboration among northside cultural institutions. I ask her about the next phase in the museum’s development, a Museum Lab for older kids that seeks to change the way we think about education. Listen in and learn how to use reflection as a management tool and prioritize talent over things.
[08:45] The growth of The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
- Raised $29M to open expanded space in 2004
- Visitor numbers went from 86K to 150K
- Currently reach 305K onsite, 50K through outreach
- 1M visitors to traveling exhibits
[11:59] What drove the museum’s growth
- Right place and time, changing city demographics
- Generous foundation community
- Investment in talent rather than ‘stuff’
[14:01] How the museum’s traveling exhibits provide an additional income stream
- Produce exhibits in-house, open onsite prior to tour
- Other museums, libraries book for three-month slots
- Make money on tour, design services
- 60-65% of budget from earned income
[17:35] The mission of The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
- Provide innovative museum experience
- Inspire joy, creativity and curiosity
[21:04] The benefits of the Charm Bracelet Project
- Brought in four outside design teams
- Looked for links among northside cultural institutions
- Inspired collaborations (e.g: park, joint memberships)
[23:18] The next phase of the museum’s development
- Opening Museum Lab in old Carnegie Library space
- Translate knowledge of how kids learn to formal classroom
- Includes makerspace geared to middle school kids
- Houses Manchester Academy charter school
- Plans to open in Spring 2019
[28:57] Jane’s advice around leadership and communication
- Provide board, staff with weekly five-sentence update
- Conduct one-on-one annual meetings with every board member
Connect with Jane Werner
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