Reflections: Warsaw conference, December 2017

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LOOKING BACK: WHY DO WE NEED CHILDREN MUSEUM?
Warsaw, Poland / December 2017

Thanks to polish organization Artanimacije and Agnieszka Rudzinska from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute for organising a great conference in Warsaw (December 16-17 2017) which aimed to support the opening of a private children’s museum in Warsaw. Colleagues from European and American children’s museums, as well as representatives from the American Association of Children’s Museums and Hands On! International gathered to support the Polish initiators to find answers to questions such as, ‘What is a children’s museum?’ and ‘What are its crucial elements and its possibilities?’

Joerg Ehtreiber, from FRida & freD in Graz, Austria and Tereza Dobiasova, from Sladovna Písek, Czech Republic, represented Hands On! at the conference and shared their know-how. The meeting was very inspiring and fruitful, hopefully our polish colleagues will be brave and strong enough to realize their plans!

One of the highlights of the conference was a presentation by Leslie Swartz, from the Boston Children’s
Museum, who spoke about the growing empathy deficit in today’s society. She encouraged children’s
museums to engender empathy by using immersive storytelling and their collections to create
environments that foster conversations and meaningful encounters between strangers. In her opinion,
one of the core tasks of children’s museums is to connect with the community they are working in and
develop a deep understanding of its people’s values, needs and challenges.

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