Young boy working on school with a mask and headphones on.

Museum Updates Crisis Creates Innovation

MCM is a place where children, families, and educators come to experience innovative, hands-on learning. So, what does a museum like ours do when faced with a global pandemic that requires visitors to stay home and socially distance? We do what we do best – we come up with creative ways to meet the immediate needs of our community.

During Mississippi’s shelter-in-place order, schools and families suddenly found themselves scrambling to ensure that children were able to continue their learning from home. The Mississippi Children’s Museum quickly and creatively shifted programming priorities to meet this immediate need.

The museum pivoted its social media channels to provide live story times and deliver its regular weekly programming in a virtual format. Additionally, MCM launched a new webpage, MCM at Home, to house digital content including coloring pages, educational videos, and comprehensive activity guides. MCM supplied more than 1,200 activity kits with school and enrichment materials to families without access to online learning and produced two special editions of the Playbook to disseminate additional educational content with more than 175,000 copies delivered statewide.

“Crisis will push you forward,” says Susan Garrard, MCM President and CEO. “We’ve talked for years about creating digital and take-home materials to expand MCM’s educational capabilities.”

But MCM did not stop there. When the Jackson Public School (JPS) District announced that classes would resume virtually for the Fall semester, MCM decided to pivot its operating model to assist these students during the week through Launch into Learning, a program that would provide tutoring, afterschool, and day camp services to JPS families in need. The Museum was able to provide a vital service to our education community, as well as open on the weekends for members and public visitors. 

“With our longstanding partnership with JPS, our 45,000 square foot space and state-of-the-art facilities, and a highly trained educational staff, this seemed like an obvious role for us to step into,” says Garrard.

This innovative approach has made a tangible impact for the more than 100 students served.“Launch into Learning means my girls have a safe environment to do virtual school on a daily basis. This program has allowed students from JPS to have daily supervision as they complete their assignments to keep them from being at risk of falling behind,” says Kim Wade, parent of a Launch into Learning student. “You all have been a Godsend.”