The Zimmer Children’s Museum came to fruition as the collaborative effort of Esther Netter, the institution’s CEO, and a community of founding board members who wished to create a place that would promote values through interactive learning, creative self-expression and art experiences for children and families. Fourteen years after its inception, their unique museum has grown into a statewide program for the betterment of future generations.
“Dream big and help change the world,” says Netter. “Teaching each person that they have the ability and power of change star ts really young. It is these values, when channeled in a positive, caring and aware environment, that teach a child the value of giving.”
The museum’s learning outreach extends to children of all ages and includes its youTHink program, which provides the opportunity for students ages nine to eighteen to discuss and explore important social issues such as diversity, social change, responsibility to community, and self-value through the power of creativity. Student art projects of self-expression help them to find their own voices and motivate steps for change.
However, perpetuating the need for change requires fundraising and phil- anthropic contribution. Each year, the museum holds its annual Show&Tell exhibition, through which a themed topic sparks numerous local and world-famous artists to contribute socially aware pieces to the museum to raise funds. This year’s show, The Art of Harmony, demonstrated how a musical instrument could inspire various messages relating to the multifaceted concept of harmony.
Seventy-plus artists participated in the exhibit, including the renowned Robert Rauschenberg, who donated a piece entitled Fugue. Additionally, prominent architectural designer and restaurateur Barbara Lazaroff created a mixed-media collage entitled If Music BeThe Food Of Love,Play On.A prominent supporter of the museum,Lazaroff was influential in bringing many of this year’s artists to exhibit their interpretative pieces. Her expansive concept piece relates to themes of food and harmony, food and music, and food and art as metaphors for life.“The theme of human quality—both good and bad—is played out in this piece,” explains Lazaroff. “I tried to relate them to the need for sustenance, comfort, celebration, and remembrance, not only in my life, but in others as well.”
From the innovative and spectacular art work on the walls to the interac- tive and thought-provoking activities in the play areas to the social commentaries created in its school programs, the Zimmer Children’s Museum opens minds to all that is possible. It not only encourages young people to be creative, think differently, and appreciate the freedom and diversity that surrounds them, but it inspires a feeling that is too often lost—hope.