The Children in Museums Award: The first decade

With this publication, Hands On! International and the European Museum Academy celebrate 10 years of the Children in Museums Award, which is given to a museum that has proved its excellence in offering exhibitions and/or programmes that contribute to the development of children into world citizens.


ICOM’s Online Library

ICOM’s Online Library contains almost 45,000 references to notices, publications, activity reports and photographs.


21st Century Children Project Publications

As a result of our 21st Century Children Project, Hands On! International developed Home of 21st Century Education quality certificate to assist museums and related institutions in the process of transforming themselves into forward-looking cultural and learning venues for children and families. To this end, eight quality standards were established as criteria, which are described and presented in more detail in the following publications.
21st Century-Children Project: Best Practices
21st Century Children Project: Analysis of Children Museums´ Readiness
21st Century Children Project: Practical Guidebook


The Ultimate Guide to Surviving and Thriving as a Cultural Organization in the 21st Century

The role, demands, and expectations for those arts and cultural organizations in the museum community have changed dramatically in the twenty-first century. Cuseum and Blackbaud provide data, trends and resources in connection with contemporary challenges and developments of the sector.



This toolkit by CIMAM produced with the contributions of CIMAM Board members 2020–22, aims to help contemporary art museum professionals start implementing the necessary changes to become carbon neutral.


Report: Museum Innovation Barometer 2021

MUSEUM BOOSTER conducts an ongoing survey on the current usage of new media and trends in this field. ‘The Museum Innovation Barometer 2021 provides research results on the current and planned implementation of technologies and technological tools among museums around the world and how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced in regards to that. Overall, 150 institutions representing 200 museums from 39 countries participated in the survey.’


Toolkit: Staff exchange- running learning and mobility programmes

This toolkit by On the Move explores how to take staff exchange to the next level. ‘It looks at staff exchanges as a powerful professional and personal development tool. It offers tips and food for thought for all organisations interested in offering or upgrading opportunities for professional mobility via staff exchanges.’


Game resource: Live Art Game for kids & adults

Playing Up is a an interactive and transgenerational card game, created in a collaboration between Theatre of ResearchLive Art Development Agency (LADA) and Tate Early Years and Family Programme. In 2021, the PLAYING UP Gender edition was launched, developed and produced by FUNDUS THEATER I Theatre of Research.


Definition: What is a children’s museum?

This definition was created by our friends from ACM (US Association of Children’s Museums), and articulates how every children’s museum functions across four key dimensions: local destinations, community resources, educational laboratories, and advocates for children.


Voices of Culture report on working conditions

A report on “Status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals” resulted from a Brainstorming Meeting organised by Voices of Culture on the 27th and 28th of April 2021.


Exhibit building: ASTC Cheapbooks

An initiative by the Association of Science and Technology Museums, collecting low-cost exhibit ideas and providing guidelines on  how to replicate these simple and successful exhibit components since 1995.
Now all four volumes of the cheapbooks gathering 100 exhibit ideas from all over the world are available for free.
Cheapbook 1: Inexpensive exhibit ideas (1995)
Cheapbook 2: More inexpensive exhibit ideas (1999)
Cheapbook 3: Even more inexpensive exhibit ideas (2004)
Cheapbook 4: Greatest Hits: 12 bonus exhibits (2014)


EU-funding toolkit: Cross-boarder cooperation for museums 

Written by Children in Museum Award Judging panel chair and museum expert Margherita Sani, this NEMO resource explores the benefits of international cooperation and the existing funding schemes.


Webinar recording: Connecting with your Community through Collection

A thought-provoking webinar exploring how museums can digitally connect with and inspire their communities using their collections. Three industry leaders- Kathleen McLean, Barbara Henry, and Evelyn Orantes- discuss their past work and share innovative ideas museums can implement to engage with their audiences–even when the doors are closed.


Assessment Tools for Informal Learning

This free database lists diverse assessment tools to measure performance of informal and out-of-school science STEM learning programmes. The searchable website is curated by the PEAR institute, which was founded in a cooperation of different Havard faculties. It aims to provide practitioners, evaluators, researchers and policy makers with the information to choose appropriate tools for assessing programme quality and outcomes for children and youth.


Dutch Diversity & Inclusion Code

Now available in English. ‘The Diversity & Inclusion Code is a code of conduct of, for and by the Dutch cultural and creative sector. The code is self-regulating, with the aim of representing the broad diversity of Dutch society in the sector. The code focuses specifically on employers and employees in the cultural and creative sector, and consists of five principles that have been elaborated in a step-by-step plan.’


Family inclusive language chart

‘Language conventions used to describe families can inadvertently leave out single-parent, adoptive, queer, multiracial, blended, and multi-generational families. Family Inclusive Language is more accurate and respectful.’ Museum consultant, exhibit designer & speaker Margaret Middleton created this reference chart as a free tool for all organisations striving to become more welcoming to all visitors.


Welcoming Special Needs Families

Collection of valuable tips on making a museum more accessible by UK-initiative Kids in Museums. From Website accessibility to activities and staff awareness, this resource offers practical input, examples and links to recents studies and further reading.


Global education monitoring report, 2020: Inclusion and education

The 2020 GEM Report assesses progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education and its ten targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda. The Report also addresses inclusion in education, drawing attention to all those excluded from education, because of background or ability. The Report also explores the challenges holding us back from achieving this vision and demonstrates concrete policy examples from countries managing to tackle them with success.


Talking about race, racism and racialized violence with children

An evolving collection of resources, articles, expert interviews and best practice examples on how to address racial injustice and racism with children, gathered by the Center  for Racial Justice in Education. Also check out the Talking about race portal by Smithsonian Museum as an inspirational best practice example on how museums can and should foster and actively participate in conversations about race.


Fund finder guide 

Guide to funding opportunities for arts and culture in Europe beyond the Creative Europe scheme.



Corona Virus Guide for Children

As  international measurements to control the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic affect public life in more and more countries, Italian Children’s Museums have teamed up to create a comprehensive guide for children. Even though many children-centred museums have to remain closed for the next weeks, they remain devoted to their mission to provide educational and empowering content for children in an informal way. In these challenging times Hands On! feels even more responsible to share resources and foster exchange on an international level. This is why we have initiated the peer translation of this valuable resource into 30 languages. Feel free to share this guide with other cultural institutions, schools and families.


Covid 19 Resources evolving list

In recognition of the global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), we recommend the following resources to help children-oriented museums navigate this dynamic situation. Hands On! International is committed to advocate and support all children-centred museums in order to ensure these circumstantial closures do not threaten their existence.


Social Media Handbook for cultural professionals

This handbook is part of the Embrace Digital Toolkit and covers strategic planning tools and best practise for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms. It offers advice on how cultural organisations, in particular museums, can create a successful content strategy, generate impact via social media channels, and grow audiences.


ICOM Social Media Guidelines

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) published this guide explaining the use of social media, and why organisations should give big importance to it. It covers basic information regarding social media platforms, as well as advanced techniques on how to create a more effective social media strategy.


Toolkit: Digital Engagement in Culture, Heritage and the Arts

Digital engagement is an essential tool in the tool-kit of the modern organisation. And it touches every aspect of an organisation. Through digital means of engagement cultural organizations are able to reach out and connect with audience segments, which were not possible before. This toolkit featuring theoretical input and best practise examples helps cultural organizations to create or remodel their own digital strategies, serves as a guide for designing and implementing digital audience engagement projects and can be used as basis for internal training courses and professional development.


Museums 2030 – Sharing recipes for a better future

This publication gathers  texts from all speakers, slammers and workshop leaders of the NEMO conference 2019. The conference, which took place from 7-10 November 2019, explored how museums can incorporate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in their work.


Blog: Elevating Childcare

Collection of articles, practical ideas and other resources by play and child-care expert Janet Lansbury. Divided into different age groups this blog offers multifarious inputs for educators, caregivers and parents.  The lively discussions in the comment section offer a great overview of the concerns and struggles of contemporay parenthood and might help children-centred museum professionals to target their programmes in order to better meet the needs of their audience.


EU Publication: From social inclusion to social cohesion

In this study conducted on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture authors investigate the current role, potential and struggles of cultural policy on an EU-level. One of EU’s biggest assets and struggles alike is its cultural diversity. A survey in 2017 revlead Culture topped the list of factors most likely to create a feeling of community, ahead of history, geography and religion. However, more than a third of Europeans said that they did not participate at all in cultural activities. The insights provided by this study is relevant for any museum professional seeking to reach out to new audiences and diversify their visitors.


European Museum Reports 2019

The European Museum Academy has gathered national reports from 26 countries to an interesting overview of the major national developments of the museum sector in 2019. Some enlightning conclusions can be drawn from these national trends.


Case Studies: Access and Inclusion

The first digital edition of the GEM – the voice of heritage and learning case studies is dedicated to inclusion. Many children and adults who engage with museums and heritage sites have Special Educational Needs. More and more projects are being developed to engage with special schools and families. In this edition, contributors move away from temporary projects and look at how they can work to generate enduring impact on their partners and practice. They challenge the notion that access is an added extra, speaking up for the cultural rights of marginalised groups, recognising their huge creative potential and our responsibility to make space for it.


Down Syndrome Resources

The Down Syndrome Foundation provides a unique range of services, materials, and resources for family and educators of learners with Down syndrome. Learn how to design activities for children with down syndrome and benefit from their great selection of ready-to-use activities and pritables.


Resource kit: The Birds And The Bees

Podcast, article and resource collection on strategies on how to talk to children about sex. The resources consider a brought variety of leading experts and offer multiple tools for an evidenced-based approach on sexual education.


Innovation Workbook: Developing and Evolving in Museums

This workbook introduces methods in which cultural heritage and art can act as inspiration, encouragement, and support for the development of new solutions. These methods have been developed in cooperation with museums, professionals in higher education and entrepreneurship education, as well as students in higher education. The project ‘Museums as innovation platforms’ was coordinated by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova and implemented together with the Museum of Technology, Humak University of Applied Sciences, and Junior Achievement Finland.


Resource collection: educating youth about agriculture

A collection of hands-on activities, engaging programs and inquiry-based educational resources aiming to connect kids and agriculture through innovative, experiential and curriculum-based programs.


Study: From social inclusion to social cohesion

This EU Publication by the 2017-2019 working group of member states’ experts on fostering the contribution of culture to social inclusion features guidelines for cultural institutions and policy makers on how they can achieve social inclusion. Learn about the current status of inclusion in Europe’s cultural institutions and get practical insights from best practice examples.


Tour Toolkit: Developing an Inclusive Tour

This toolkit for developing an inclusive tour was compiled using best practices recorded on tour observations and through discussions with more than 150 docents and guides at Mia during a two-year period. In observing guided tours with high levels of engagement, common elements and approaches used by tour facilitators emerged. One way to value our visitors’ voices is to create opportunities for participation and the exchange of ideas while exploring art together on a tour. Whether you have been guiding tours for 5 years or 25 years, using suggestions and techniques from this toolkit will help you provide a more inclusive tour experience, where all participants are invited to take part in building on the meaning of the art.


Education Research Highlights 2019

Does doodling boost learning? Do attendance awards work? Do boys and girls process math the same way? Does art education benefit the learning curve of other subjects?Do we learn more when reading from paper? Every year brings new insights—and cautionary tales—about what works in education. Edutopia has put together a great overview of the major questions tackled by researchers in 2019.


Guide: Methodology of working with people with special needs in botanical gardens and arboreta

This methodology is the result of a Erasmus+ cooperation between the botanical gardens in Prague, Poznań and Gothenburg and the Hungarian Association of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens. It aims to be a practical guide and inspire educators in botanical gardens, ecological education centres and other institutions to focuse on improving their accessibility by using innovative methods of work and perceiving nature by all senses. Available in English, Swedish, Czech, Polish & Hungarian.


Guide: Museums and the Sustainable Development Goals

This guide creating by Curating tomorrow is intended to help empower museums, museum workers, museum networks and their partners to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal. Learn about the Sustainable Development Goals vision, agenda, and why the SDGs need museums and museums need the SDGs.



Bring Science Home: Archive of DIY science experiments

Scientific American has developed an archive of over 400 of science experiments for kids ages 6-12. Each post in the archive details the key concepts kids will learn (such as biology, chemistry, physics, angles, friction, force, engineering or frequency), some background on the topic, a list of materials needed, step-by-step instructions, and observations and results. The experiments can be done with household items in 30 minutes or less.


Digital history book

Monument Europe is a free, open source project, which provides low-threshold information particularly to schools, social organisations, families, volunteers, and also to local history clubs and historical societies. The website and resources are designed to help young people unlock the “European Code” in monuments, and to examine the past with a view on the topics that are relevant today, both online and offline. Every topic is accessible via three paths: A timeline, an animated graphic novel providing a relatable character connected to a specific historic event and sn activity toolbox inviting participants to engage with monuments and their historical context in the physical world.



Exibit Design for Girls’ Engagement Resources

The Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement (EDGE) project, a three-year research study, aimed to identify the most important design attributes for engaging girls at STEM exhibits. The purpose of the EDGE research was to winnow that list of 100 potential design attributes to those most important for engaging girls. The result: nine design attributes strongly and positively related to girls’ engagement across the three institutions. Check out their free Design Guide, Webinar, Articles, and Coding Scheme.


Methods and techniques from museum and heritage education

This handy toolkit offers an overview of 18 educational methods used in museums and other cultural insitutions of informal learning. The publication presents the basic concept of each method along with its strenghts and weaknesses and targets museum professionals, teachers, parents and students alike.



Spokes – Science Engagement Magazine

Spokes is the free monthly online magazine of Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums. Dvelve into the  latest news from the European science engagement community, go further with in-depth features and make the most of the good reads, events and opportunities shared by Ecsite members.



Storytelling Card pack: Grandma got S.T.E.A.M

The intergenerational project Grandma got STEAM is an intergenerational Project, which  brought together a group of young people and  women with  successful careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths. They  developed a pack of illustrated storytelling cards that features characters and plots drawn from the life and work experiences of the women. The pack  functions as a storytelling tool and may be used by anyone with an interest in story and community.



Toolkit: Who is coming? Respectful Audience Surveying

Many cultural and civic institutions don’t have high-quality data on participants. For many, collecting demographic data sounds intimidating, expensive, and complicated. The OF BY FOR ALL initiative, founded by Nina Simon, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, has put together a free tool kit  helping you to develop a visitor survey to collect high-quality data on a budget.


Bringing up Britain

This weekly radio debate by BBC 4 discusses various topics connected to raising 21st century children. Subjects range from teaching critical thinking skills, to smartphone usage, childhood anxiety, risky play, boosting creativity and gender stereoptypes. In each episode moderator Mariella Frostrup is joined by experts, policy makers, parents and children, who offer multiple perspectives and further food for thought. All episodes are available online and for free.



Equity, exclusion and everyday science learning 

In an article for Ecsite’s Spokes magazine, Emily Dawson shares a summary of the findings of her latest book: Equity, exclusion & everyday science learning: The experiences of minoritised groups. The author explores how some people are excluded from science education and communication. Taking the role of science in society as a starting point, she critically examines the concept of equity in science learning and develops a framework to support inclusive change. The findings draw on two years of ethnographic research carried out in London with five community groups who identified as Asian, Somali, Afro-Caribbean, Latin American and Sierra Leonean.



Toolkit: History conveyed through dilemma-based communication

Dilemma-based presentation is a working method, in which the emphasis is on empathy and reflection. The main purpose is to get participants to live inside a specific scenario. Giving participants a crucial role in solutions encourages them to reflect on the possibilities and consequences of their decisions. Six Danish museums share their dilemma-based activities and practical insights of using the method for various target groups. The toolkit also offers a theoretical introduction to the topic and a list of reading recommendations.



Imaginary Open Mathematics

IMAGINARY is a non-profit Organisation dedicated to the communication of modern mathematics. It offers a free platform for open and interactive mathematics with a variety of content that can be used in schools, at home, in museums, at exhibitions or for events and media activities. The main contents of IMAGINARY are interactive programs, tool kits and exhibits.


Fablabnet Library

FabLabNet Library is an open online document repository that collects key deliverables of public interest – inlcluding mapping studies, videos & tutorials – jointly developed and piloted by nine FablLabs in the context of the Interreg Central Europe FabLabNet project. Fablabs are technical prototyping platforms for innovation and invention inviting the society at large to become innovators. The project joins 9 fablabs into a central European Network to share experiences and develop activities to boost their knowledge and capacity.


National Museum Reports 2018

Our friends from the European Museum Academy have asked their national representatives to submit reports on current developments of the museum landscape in their countries. This collections features reports from 20 European countries and offers unique insights on the latest achievements and difficulties of the European museum field.


Nordic Inspiration: Fresh approaches to museum learning

The Nordic associations of museum education (NAME)  created this  selection of projects from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway that have been internationally acclaimed for their innovative approaches.  The diverse projects are presented in four categories: Audience Development, Community & Collaboration, Schools & Education and Museum Development.


Museums change lives

Museums of all sizes, with collections ranging from fine art to social history, are changing lives – often in partnership with community groups, health charities and other third sector organisations. The British Museums Association is campaigning for museums to develop their role as socially purposeful organisations and has released a compelling report on the social impact of museums.



Start Empathy: A toolkit for promoting empathy in schools

A great collection of activities to help create learning environments which meet every child’s social and emotional needs.  Ashoka, the leading association for social entrepreneurs has identified empathy as a key skill of the 21th century. This toolkit was launched as part of their campaing Empathy Now!.



Summer learnings

A list of podcasts for museum professionals addressing a broad variety of topics. For bookworms we recommend Victoria & Albert’s learning and interpretation reading list , Lindsey Steward’s reading bucket list and the reading list of Bundesverband deutscher Kinder-und Jugendmuseen (for German-speakers)



European Museum Awards: A guide to quality work in museums

A NEMO publication dedicated to Europe’s most prestegious museum awards. Learn more about their aims and gather valuable information on their judging criteria and application processes. Spoiler alert: Our very own Children in Museums Award is featured too!



Session summary: Hands On! at Ecsite 2018

Our friends from Ecsite invited us to hold a Hands On! session at this year’s edition of their annual conference. From 7-9 June 2018 more than 1000 participants gathered at Europe’s largest Science communication conference. In our session ‘Reconceiling creative exhibit design and the demands of today’s compensation culture’ we explored the obstacles curators and exhibit developers face throughout their work. This report features summaries of the three inspiring brave practice presentations, questions and issues raised by the participants and a list of reads recommended by the speakers.



The NL factor: A journey in the educational world of Dutch museums

This Nemo publication written by CMA-judge Margherita Sani explores why there are so many extraordinary museum projects dedicated to young visitors in the Netherlands. Learn what makes the Dutch museum landscape so unique, dive into an inspiring case study and discover the work of 22 best practise projects.



Activity toolkit: Gender inclusive STEM education

Hypatia, a EU-funded project aiming to develop a theoretical framework on gender inclusive STEM education created this collection of activities for teenagers aged 13-18 years. This online resource contains workshops, speed dating, card games, debate scenarios and plays drawn from good practices across Europe.



Managing risk in play provision: Implementation guide

Play Safety Forum has gathered three leading experts of the fields of play and risk to introduce a state-of-the-art approach on risk management. The result is the risk-benefit assessment, taking into account latest scientific findings on human play. This guide shows, how insitutitons can successfully balance safety and free play.



Exhibit safety resources

This resource list complements the article “Keeping Visitors Safe Around Exhibits,” by Kathy Krafft and Harry White, which appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine, published by the Association of Science-Technology Centers . It features lists of recommended safety products, links to safety resources, recommended reads, sample accident forms and risk assessments.



Measuring socially engaged practise: A toolkit for museums

Evaluating the social impact of a museum can be a real challenge. This toolkit by the UK Museums Association looks at a variety of approaches including qualitative and quantitative techniques, helping institutions to find the best method for their needs.



The #Future Museum Project

Museum professionals from all over the world share their personal answers to the question ‘What will museums be like in the future ?’. Get inspired by the thoughts and ideas of colleagues, or submit your own short essay and participate in this visionary ongoing project. Do not miss out on browsing through other articles of the Museum ID Magazine as well – it is definitely worth it!



The power of play: A research summary on play and learning

A research compilation on the major types of play and its related learning benefits by Rachel White of the Minnesota Children’s Museum.



Social Media toolkit for cultural managers

This toolkit by the ENCATC network on internet engagement data, marketing and storytelling strategies, assists cultural insitutions to make more of their social media appearances. It also provides valuable background information on the nature of social media and best pratice ideas to boost the benefits of social media activities for your organization.



Conference report: Hands On! conference 2017

Raluca Bem Neamu’s  (president of the Da´DeCe (I Wonder Why) association) personal report on the 11th Hands On! conference titled `Future in children’s Hands – informal education as a tool for social change`. Our 2017 travelling conference brought 300 dedicated museum professionals to Pilsen, Pisek and Prague. See our biennial gathering through the eyes of a first-time participant and benefit from her take-aways.



The Participatory Museum

The open access online version of Nina Simon’s best-selling guide to working with community members and visitors to make cultural institutions more dynamic, relevant and essential places.



RAFT: Resource area for teaching

Great selection of lesson plans, workshop kits and tip sheets dedicated to hands-on learning of STEAM topics. They also run a blog on turning everyday situations into teachable moments and feature inspiring Projects and ideas for workhshop themes



Discussion guide: The future of museums and libraries

The summary of the discussions and outcomes of a planning Meeting initiated by the US- National Academy of Sciences. Leaders of different diciplines were asked to discuss the future challenges, opportunities and developments of museums and libraries. Dive into their ideas and visions for 9 key themes of the field and gain new insights with the help of the recommended literature.