We Build Brains
Please Touch Museum enriches the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play. This is where lifelong learning begins and curiosity is encouraged. Our mission is to change a child’s life as they discover the power of learning through play.
The report Growing Young Minds says that institutions like Please Touch Museum “build brains and fuel a love of learning,” adding: “Libraries and museums in communities across the country are expanding learning opportunities that prepare our youngest children for a lifetime of learning and success…. [They] are trusted, welcoming places where children make discoveries, deepen common interests, expand words and knowledge, and connect their natural curiosity to the wider world…. The type of learning that occurs in these institutions – self-directed, experiential, content-rich – promotes … skills that can shape a child’s success in school and in life.”
And we were the first museum in the nation — and always among the best — focused on families with children ages seven and younger.
Whether it’s through the programming inside our historically significant home or in our activities throughout the neighborhoods and communities of Greater Philadelphia, we are:
- Inclusive — We serve the varied interests and ability of young children.
- Collaborative — We partner with other organizations and experts devoted to early childhood development.
- Stewards — We cherish children and families and are responsible with our resources.
Here’s how we got here
Founded in 1976 by Montessori educator Portia Sperr, Please Touch Museum began as a 2,200-square-foot pilot project nestled among the dinosaur skeletons and woolly mammoths in Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences.
By 1978, we expanded our hours and relocated to a larger space on Cherry Street, and in 1983, only seven years after our founding, purchased and renovated a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building on North 21st Street, in the heart of Philadelphia’s museum district. During the next nine years, attendance grew 70 percent and membership 52 percent while we were accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, launched the first publishing award that honored books for young children, and purchased the building next door to expand exhibit space by 40 percent.
In 2005, we began an extensive, three-year restoration of Memorial Hall, which was constructed as the art gallery for the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, the first World’s Fair in the United States. Since our grand opening in 2008, our exhibits have included a 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch, constructed by artist Leo Sewell from hundreds of common items such as skis, license plates and children’s toys, as well as a restored carousel that dates to 1908.< About (Home)Leadership >