Photos courtesy of UMOJA Staff

From May 15-17, 2024, the Madison Children’s Museum hosted the Association of Children’s Museum’s 2024 InterActivity Conference at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. This event welcomed approximately 1,100 visitors who are Children’s Museum directors, staffers, creatives, and board members from all over the world. According to Arthur Affleck, President and CEO of the Association of Children’s Museum, this was one of the largest gatherings of children’s museum professionals and the first time Madison had the opportunity to host the event. A highlight of the conference was the “Great Friend to Kids” Award that went to Madison’s own, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings.

Ladson-Billings is completing her second and final term as a member of the Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) Board of Directors where she has had an opportunity to advocate for more outreach, diversity, and inclusion in MCM. The museum is a wonderful resource in this region but often children of color are unable to take advantage of it because of the lack of resources or other access issues. During her term as a board member, Ladson-Billings has pressed for free and low-income memberships for area families needing assistance to participate.

Ladson-Billings spoke to the attendees about “Kasserian Ingera,” the Masai greeting that translates to “And how are the children?” The correct response is “The children are all well!” She provided data and statistics that suggest that children in the US are not all well and how children’s museums can serve as antidotes to the suffering far too many children experience because of poverty, health, education, and general welfare.

The InterActivity 2024 conference was filled with information and fun. There were 5 study tours to places such as the International Crane Foundation, the MCM Outdoor Play Space, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison, and an Evening at the MCM. All the study tours were sold out. The Evening at the MCM included a contest where teams were challenged to create either a cicada or a cricket using similar elements that included a part of a church pew, a cross country ski, and plastic pumpkin. Each “insect” had to be able to move. Guests at that event were treated to edible insect treats such as mealworm crispy treats and buggy brownies!

The Madison Children’s Museum is located at 100 N. Hamilton Street, Madison, WI 53703 on the Capitol Square. Its hours of operation are: Open Wednesday–Sunday from 9 am–4 pm, regular admission price. Open with FREE admission from 4–8 pm on Thursdays and closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Admission for members and children under age 1 is free. Adults and children is $12 per visit ($11 if purchased on line) and older adults and grandparents admission is $11($10 if purchased on line). MCM offers a number of reduced and free admission opportunities via Medicaid, SSI, Badger Care Plus, WIC and other programs. See the MCM website for further information (https://madisonchildrensmuseum.org/visit/).