Parents engaged in play is something that Boston Children’s Museum President and CEO Carole Charnow witnesses all the time: parents getting “haircuts” in the barber shop, dads coloring alongside their children in the art studio and even courageous parents climbing the museum’s popular play structure.

“Everyone likes to play. It’s through play that people develop creativity and curiosity,” says Charnow, a mother of two, who took the helm at the museum in 2010 via a 30-year career in the performing arts field.

This year, the importance of play in the lives of children and families takes center stage as the Boston Children’s Museum celebrates its 100th birthday and launches a new campaign, “The Power of Play.”

Founded by Boston Public School teachers, the Boston Children’s Museum first opened its doors on Aug. 1, 1913, to provide a place for children and families to connect with the world around them.

In coming months, the museum will expand its performing arts programs and become a stronger partner for parents because, as Charnow notes, “kids don’t come here on their own.”

In addition to offering exhibit tip sheets and plaques with helpful cues to parents, the museum has a new website of learning resources, including a section called “100 Activities” ( that offers suggestions for everyday activities promoting play and growth.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of $1 Friday nights, part of a mission to make sure all children have access to the museum. Last year, the Boston Children’s Museum also became the first museum in New England to cut the admission cost to $2 for visitors showing an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

You’re Invited!

Watch for these new exhibits and events at Boston Children’s Museum, part of a yearlong celebration of its 100th birthday.


• “Blue Man Group – Making Waves” – This exhibit allows visitors to discover their “Blue Man within” through a multi-sensory exploration of sound.

• “Secrets of Circles” – Opening this summer, this exhibit explores the math, science and engineering of circles.

• “Making America’s Music” – This fall, in conjunction with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this hands-on exhibit will celebrate the joy and diversity of American music, from jazz to country and rock to rap.


• April 6: Family Fest and Parent Fair at the Boston Children’s Museum – WGBH co-sponsors this daylong festival with an assortment of activities for families. Parent programs include a Parent Café, for conversations with dynamic bloggers and leading researchers on current research regarding early childhood development.

• April through October: “100 Years of Play” – Special exhibits.

• August 2: Boston Children’s Museum’s Birthday Party – Free admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Oct. 4-6: “The Power of Play” Gala Weekend – A weekend of activities to engage the community in the power of play, including a community dance party and a performing arts festival.

For more information, visit

Michelle Xiarhos Curran is a freelance writer and mother of three in Newburyport.