In a year that presented challenges like no other, we were still able to create landmark learning experiences for thousands of children and their families – in fun and innovative ways.
When the pandemic forced our closure in March, Hands-on House – at no charge to families –
- continued recording beloved Story Stretchers sessions and posting them for families to watch at home;
- distributed 1,000 brown bag STEM kits to children around Lancaster County, including parts of Lancaster City;
- offered socially distant pop-up STEM and Art activities in our parking lot during May and June.
During the closure, we made a strategic decision to invest in and work on updates to the museum and new exhibits — to give children and families new learning experiences, new fun and new memories.
- We created a STEM Lab on the main exhibit floor.
- We turned the Corner Grocery concept into a Farmer’s Market.
- In recent weeks, we have added life-size gear and ball walls, a robotic arm, and hands-free interactive projector games.
This fall, while operating under reduced capacity with thorough new safety measures in effect, we introduced a regular schedule of Art classes – exploring all kinds of media and techniques – plus several Open Art sessions each week included in museum admission. We have also resumed weekly Story Stretchers sessions: story time, followed by a short STEM activity, art project or play to stretch our learning.
Finally, we remain steadfast in our commitment to increased community access.
- We made family passes available for checkout in all 17 branches of the Lancaster County Public Library system.
- We launched an effort to put family passes in local school libraries, beginning with Hempfield School District.
- We continue to offer Museums for All admission for low-income families. In the 7.5 months that our doors have been open in 2020, more than 900 children and adults have visited Hands-on House through this reduced-admission initiative.
We know the future, especially the immediate weeks and months, will hold challenges, but we believe that brighter days await us. We trust that as we continue creating opportunities for children, our community will respond in kind. We need your help now to ensure that when those brighter days do come, Hands-on House will be here for families to learn, play, experiment, imagine and create together.
On Friday November 20, please visit www.extragive.org/organizations/hands-on-house-children-s-museum-of-lancaster to make a contribution — and know that your gift preserves a cherished community resource and supports the kind of learning that lasts forever.