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It is with great sadness that we share the news that Laura Foster passed away late last week after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Laura was a consummate professional and a treasured leader in the world of museums, particularly children’s museums and most importantly at Please Touch Museum.
Laura joined PTM in 1991 as the Director of Development and Marketing. Throughout her 22 year tenure at PTM she held a variety of leadership roles including as President and CEO from 2009-2013. Laura was responsible for many important initiatives at PTM, including the Great Friend of Kids Award, and collaborating with the Franklin on Science Park and The Rosenbach on Sendak.
She was held in very high regard throughout the museum world. She was an associate professor of Museum Studies at the University of the Arts and in 2015 joined the board of the Wagner Free Institute where she served as chair of the board. Seen as an educator, leader and visionary, Laura was a board member of the American Association of Museums and held a variety of leadership roles on the board of the Association of Children’s Museums including as ACM Board President from 2006-2008.
Laura was often an invited speaker at leading museum conferences and educational programs, including the Getty Leadership Institute in Berkeley and many annual ACM InterActivity conferences around the country.
Laura and her husband Aaron lived in Philadelphia, she had 2 children and was devoted to her grandchildren. A memorial tribute on the Wagner Institute website recalled Laura as “an individual with energy, vision and as a warm compassionate leader. Throughout her remarkable career she was a mentor and role model for staff, volunteers and board members.”
The family is planning a memorial service in September at the Wagner, we will keep you informed as details are shared with us. The museum world has lost an iconic professional who has left a lasting mark on the future of children’s museums and on future generations of museum staff. How fortunate Please Touch Museum was to have had her as a leader and partner in creating Philadelphia’s children’s museum, she will be missed but will always have a place in our history and in our hearts.
Patricia D. Wellenbach