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Record-Breaking Year at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Record-Breaking YearMost visitors, plus most memberships, plus most school visits, add up to a record-breaking year at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Nearly 1.27 million children and their grownups visited in 2016 making it the highest year in attendance without a special exhibit such as King Tut.  The only year that exceeded this was 2009 when the museum hosted Tutankhamun:  The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs exhibition and the museum had 1,310,576 visitors that year. 2011 comes in third with 1,271,794 visitors—lagging behind 2016 by 7,000 visitors.

“The museum continually looks for new ways to reach and engage new visitors as well as our current members and visitors,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, President and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “In 2016, we responded with one-of-a-kind, STEM-strong experiences such as Beyond Spaceship Earth, Dow AgroSciences ScienceWorks, and the new Heritage Group Center for Family Learning in STEM. The Museum’s $9.5 million investment in science exploration and discovery has paid off as reflected in the museum’s extraordinary attendance in 2016.  As well, the museum’s newly-forged relationship with Disney resulted in record-breaking attendance for the museum’s youngest visitors and their families.  Disney approached us to create a traveling experience, Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit, marking the first time ever the entertainment giant has partnered with a museum to do so. The result was magnificent as thousands of little ones stepped into Doc’s office and let their imaginations run wild.”

While Beyond Spaceship Earth and Dow AgroSciences ScienceWorks are permanent exhibits, the museum offered 10 different temporary exhibit or experience options in 2016. They included: National Geographic Sacred Journeys, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer, the Chocolate Slide, Pirates & Princesses: Storybook Adventures, Alien Worlds and Androids, Fables Across Time,: Kalila and Dimna, Hot Wheels: Race to Win, Beyond Spaceship Earth, Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit, Haunted House (Cursed Castle) and Jolly Days: Winter Wonderland.

In addition, the world’s largest children’s museum sponsored many special events, family programs and interpretive performances. The Children’s Museum believes another factor playing into higher attendance in 2016 included the opportunity to meet with real scientists-in-residence Drs. David Wolf, Phil Manning and Victoria Egerton. “Having these subject matter experts available to our visitors gives families the chance to receive expert insight into the study of fossils and what those artifacts can tell us. I also believe it encourages more engagement on the part of families and school groups and it gives the museum a unique opportunity to be part of real scientific research,”  said Patchen.

Museum membership also set a new record as families realized the value of membership with so many experiences and options. The museum ended the year with a record number of household memberships of 35,700.  Gift membership purchases were also the highest on record. Gift membership sales during the holiday season totaled over 3,200, which was 2% over the record in 2015. 

Schools also enjoy the benefits of membership as the museum becomes a huge classroom for inquiring little minds. The Children’s Museum now has a record number of member schools with 112 choosing to participate. The museum also set a record for member school attendance with more than 102,000 students visiting in 2016.

Behind-the-scenes, the museum digitally photographed a record 17,000 of our 120,000 artifacts in an effort to make more of our collection accessible to the public. 

The museum has more extraordinary options for families on the horizon. In 2017, children and families will have more reasons to invest in a membership to The Children’s Museum with a new permanent exhibit American POP: The Galleries for American Arts and Popular Culture. It will occupy a permanent within the galleries, which will also feature a temporary space that will change topics on a rotating basis. The first of the temporary exhibits will be DANCE! featuring everything from traditional ballet and classical dancing to dance styles from around the world. 

Here’s a look at the stellar 2017 lineup:

  • Circus: Starring YOU!
  • Chocolate Slide
  • Hot Wheels: Race to Win
  • The Galleries for American Arts and  Popular Culture 
  • Dance!
  • The Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House
  • Jolly Days Winter Wonderland

Mark your calendars for the spring of 2018 when the world’s largest children’s museum gets even bigger with the opening of the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience. This 7.5 acre health and fitness experience will offer a very hands-on and interactive opportunity for families to be active together while playing the sports they love.

About The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. For more information about The Children's Museum, visit www.childrensmuseum.org, follow us on Twitter @TCMIndyFacebook.com/childrensmuseum and YouTube.com/IndyTCM.