In its 21-year history, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (GRCM) has welcomed over 3.5 million guests and invited young children and their hosts to engage in hands-on learning and exploration through creative play.
In the fall of 2018, with a three-year $177,474 grant from the Steelcase Foundation, GRCM created an Accessibility and Inclusion Manager position, formalizing and institutionalizing existing efforts to increase the museum’s cultural competency to provide a more welcoming and inclusive experience for all visitors. As children’s museums occupy a unique space between formal and informal education and reflect the current experience of childhood, the messages they send can have a deep and lasting impact on children. Rachel McKay, newly named GRCM Accessibility and Inclusion Manager noted, “If the experience is centered around a dominant culture, many children who need a mirror will be met with a window, observing a more commonly accepted version of childhood rather than seeing their own experience reflected and celebrated. Our vision is that every child who visits the museum can be an example of a family that looks like them, lives this them, loves like them, and play like them.”
To ensure all guests have a welcoming and enjoyable museum visit, GRCM will
- Conduct community listening sessions
- Provide equity and diversity training for all staff
- Institute new human resources practices to attract and retain diverse talent and board members
- Make intentional efforts to recognize and celebrate what childhood looks like for all children, taking special consideration to racial, ethnic, and neurodiversity, as well as cognitive abilities
We’re excited to walk alongside GRCM as it amplifies its efforts to make the museum a welcoming and accessible place for all children to play.