Hands On! International wants to be vital and relevant to members, even in years when we do not organize a conference. This year an exciting collaboration with Ecsite, the European network of science centers and museums, allowed us to do exactly this.
In June we hosted a pre-conference workshop in Graz, Austria, during the annual Ecsite conference. Graz welcomed us very warmly and made it possible for us to meet our own HO! family, as well as the much larger Ecsite association. The event was facilitated by the Graz Children’s Museum, who organized a vibrant participatory opening, in which school classes, kindergarten groups, universities, companies and conference participants built an incredibly long chain-reacting-machine.
The official opening ceremony of the conference was attended by more than 1000 participants from all over the world. The audience was adressed by Heinz Fischer, the former Federal President of Austria and his wife Magrit Fischer, President of the Association of Science Center-Network, as well as Jörg Ehtreiber, Director of Graz Children’s Museum and Hands On! International President, Wolfgang Muchitsch, Director of Universalmuseum Johanneum, Cathrine Franche, Executive Director of Ecsite, and many more.
Around 50 Participants from all over the World e.g. India, Israel, Australia and Dubai, took part in the HO! pre-conference. For some, it was the very first time participating and we hope to welcome them as future members!
In the morning session, eight different approaches to museum work were introduced to us. A particularly inspiring presentation came from the Discovery Center in Boston, who see their museum as a laboratory and closely cooperate with universities and parents. The research tools they use for their studies could be helpful for other museums seeking to gain more information about children in museums.
In the afternoon, we offered various workshops, dedicated to the theme ‘Colors of Cooperation’. Over the course of the program, we visited different partners in order to gain a deeper understanding of how children’s museums can cooperate with schools and universities as well as art museums and companies.