Our Work

Since its founding in 1983, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has become one of the nation’s leading educational institutions. On both local and national levels, the Children’s Museum has established itself as a leader in the design and development of research-based learning experiences for children and families.

The work of the Museum is incorporating an ever-changing array of high-quality, hands-on exhibits and programs, regional and national traveling exhibits, research initiatives and partner relationships. In this way the Museum continues to provide innovative learning experiences that touch each and every visitor who walks through the door, as well as millions of people nationwide.

We build on this groundbreaking work by creating MuseumLab, a center of education for all learners — from educators, to researchers to youth and families. It will be a testing ground for new ideas about how education works best every day. A space for families to learn and grow together.

By leveraging the Museum’s strengths in partnerships, research and design, we engage expanded audiences and pursue new questions to further conversations, locally and nationally, about learning theory, practice and policy.

Partnerships

Partnerships enables us to test ideas and solve problems together. On any given day at Museum Lab, we will work with our child-and-education-focused partners to solve issues facing today’s youth and design experiences that chart new directions for learning. You can learn about our partners in both MuseumLab and the Children’s Museum here.

Our cornerstone partner in Museum Lab is Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) — a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon school with a 99% graduation rate and strong roots in the Northside’s Manchester neighborhood. MACS’ middle school, 140 students in grades 6 - 8, will have this unique learning environment starting school year 2018/2019. The Children’s Museum’s Learning and Research Department will study MuseumLab’s impact on these students through a dynamic research/practice/research cycle as they use the space each week. The ongoing, sustained access to learners and their projects over time will enable researchers to conduct new, much-needed research that will be shared with the nation.

Learning Research

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Learning and Research Department, in collaboration with researchers and designers from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University, will engage in dynamic investigations within MuseumLab. At the intersection of learning research and practice, these investigations explore new ideas, new technologies and new learning opportunities for students, teachers, youth and families.

In addition, the Children’s Museum is engaged in a number of research-based initiatives with partners across the country. These currently include Making Spaces: Expanding Maker Education Across the Nation, a partnership with Maker Education Initiative and Google to sustainably integrate making into schools across the nation; Making Observations: Evidencing Learning through Making, a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop a suite of observation tools for identifying, documenting, measuring and improving maker-based learning experiences in museums and libraries; and Pittsburgh Commitment to Kindness, a project to develop staff, teacher and community capacity to support kindness, in collaboration with JAM Enterprises’ #bethekindkid initiative. To learn more about the Museum’s Learning & Research work, see our publications.

The Museum also provides educator professional training opportunities that takes our learning research and applies it to practical training in topics related to making in the classroom, as well as a Maker Educator Boot Camp.

Design

The Museum designs its own exhibits, guided by its mission to provide innovative museum experiences that inspire joy, creativity and curiosity, universal design principles and the evaluation and findings of the Learning and Research team. Many of these exhibits are made available to rent by other museums and libraries, and many exhibit components are available for sale. Our team also consults widely, designing children’s areas for institutions across the region including the Pittsburgh International Airport, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and National Portrait Gallery. Learn about our design work here.