president's noteFall 2008
"Our museums are places where everyone is invited to dream big— sometimes even outlandishly. It’s something impossible to teach. You can only experience it. "
- David Hillenbrand

Sometimes you can make something big happen with just a little nudge.

It happens all the time at our museums: A teacher brings her students to a Museum of Art exhibition and sees some of them react with a curiosity and enthus-iasm they never showed in the classroom.  A father brings his daughters to the Science Center instead of the movies, and at the end of the day one of them announces she wants to be an astronaut. 

We often think about our museums as adjunct classrooms, where children of all ages can be inspired to explore worlds, issues, and feelings in ways they seldom do while sitting at a desk. Our museums are certainly that, but they’re so much more than that, too. They’re places where everyone is invited to dream big—sometimes even outlandishly. That’s something impossible to teach. You can only experience it.

photo: Lisa Kyle

In the cover story of this issue of CARNEGIE magazine (Dream Machine, page 14), we learn about the many Carnegie Science Center programs that invite children and teenagers to experience the fun of science. Maybe those experiences will lead a child to a career in science; maybe they won’t. But with every science experiment, workshop, or internship, kids learn to believe anything is possible. That’s  as important as any science lesson. 

The teenagers in Carnegie Museum of Art’s Zero Gravity program are not only learning that anything is possible; they’re realizing that what they think and say—about art, or anything else, for that matter —really counts for something. In the article Speaking Their Language (page 32), we read about how these groups of high school students are accepting the museum’s challenge to rethink their notions of contemporary art—and how those same students are helping the museum extend its reach into the ever-important world of online social networking. It’s a world foreign to so many people of my generation, yet it’s second nature to any 16-year-old. Zero Gravity is proving to be a mutually beneficial experience that we know will influence many other programs in the future. 

September, which marks the official start of the back-to-school season, is always an opportune time to talk about the many ways our museums work with schools and parents to inspire kids to learn, and dream. I’m always proud to be able to point to examples of these in the pages of our magazine. But lest we not practice what we preach, I can assure you that we continue to dream of—and aspire to—even bigger ways we can make a difference.

Our thanks to you, our members and supporters of Carnegie Museums, for all you do to encourage us in our pursuits!

David Hillenbrand
Also in this issue:

Dream Machine  ·  Burb Appeal  ·  Transformers  ·  Speaking Their Language  ·  NewsWorthy  ·  Now Showing  ·  Face Time: Andy Mack  ·  Artistic License: In the Name of Hybrid Theater  ·  Science & Nature: The Herp House  ·  About Town: A Road Map to Scientific Treasure  ·  Another Look: The Child Mummy