Recently the Please Touch Museum introduced a new strategic plan and vision for the beloved Philadelphia institution that will guide its philosophy, operations, and overall institutional direction for the coming years. Centered around a newly emboldened mission and promise, Please Touch Museum 2020: Reimagining Play to Empower 21st Century Learners refocuses the Museum’s vision and sets the course for its future as a leading engine of and advocate for the learning through play that is critical for early childhood development.
In 2016, while the Museum welcomed more than 490,000 visitors, provided free or deeply discounted admission to more than 65,000 children and families in need, hosted over 16,000 Philadelphia schoolchildren free of admission charge, and provided support for more Art-Reach ACCESS cardholders this year than all other participating organizations combined, the organization simultaneously took on the task of reimagining a strategic vision that would lay the path to do more.
“We are in a decidedly critical time for the future of our children, and children’s museums are rising to meet an ever-growing need to support and provide early learning that builds a foundation for success in the 21st century,” said Please Touch Museum President & CEO Patricia D. (Trish) Wellenbach. “Driven by our new mission and promise, Please Touch Museum will answer that call.”
The result is both inspirational and aspirational:
The new mission: Change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play. The 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.
Framed by the new mission and promise, Please Touch Museum 2020 includes a series of guiding principles that will direct Please Touch Museum’s work in the coming years, as well as strategy points and goals that will enhance every department within the organization. The Museum is committed to reimagining the ways that its play-based experiences empower learning through connecting exhibits and programming in innovative ways that center around contemporary skill-building and understanding, and bolstering the capacity for excellence and sustainability across all facets of the institution, from staff to the Board of Trustees.
This work has already begun. The Museum opened a new permanent exhibit that recreates the iconic Bassetts Ice Cream stand in November 2016, and will renovate its existing Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia exhibition in February of this year. Please Touch has also committed to bringing the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s feature exhibit America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Far and Near to Philadelphia in 2019, and is in the planning stages for Centennial Innovations, a new original exhibit that will bring the story and relevance of Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exhibition to life for today’s children and families as they imagine the future together.
During the presentation at The Union League of Philadelphia, Wellenbach presented these plans publicly for the first time to business and cultural leaders, local influencers, and stakeholders. The event also featured remarks from newly confirmed Chair of the Please Touch Museum Board of Trustees, Kristen Vieira Traynor.