December 1, 2015
Let's Move! Museums & Gardens is a component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids. Through exhibits, programs, and healthy food service, museums and gardens in all fifty states are taking action to provide fun opportunities for fitness and learning. Visits to museums and gardens are high-impact learning opportunities with the power to make a difference in children's lives and their futures. Click here for a list of participating institutions.

By Aleks Weaver, Health and Wellness Educator

A view of the tape tunnel at the Tulsa Children_s Museum

The Tulsa Children's Museum Discovery Lab values building exhibits and developing curriculum that encourage learning through play.  A participant of Let's Move! Museums & Gardens, the Discovery Lab play prompts full-body movement and encourages physical health in a fun and engaging environment.

The Move It! Exhibit (now a traveling exhibit) was designed to facilitate large-motor movement and play.  The Scramble, a floor-to-ceiling vertical maze, required children to climb and crawl their way through the labyrinth.  In the arena, families played with exercise balls, hula hoops, and jump ropes. 
The Team Up exhibit focuses on collaborative engineering and encourages children and their families to explore using their whole physicality.  For the Group Race, visitors place their feet on two parallel boards and hold onto strings to scoot across the floor to the finish line.  The Human Foosball exhibit encourages visitors to split into teams and play a heart-pumping game.
The museum's most famous element, the tape tunnel and slide, is a large elevated structure made from miles of packing tape. Visitors of all ages love to climb through the tunnel to make it to the long slide at the end. 
In addition to exhibits that promote movement and play, Discovery Lab's unique health and wellness programming, Brain, Body, Balance (B3), delivers classes during school, after school, and over the summer to support the development of the whole child -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.  Designed for grades Pre-K through 6th, this curriculum uses a variety of movement, playful games, and calming breath practices to give students self-regulation techniques they can apply in their everyday lives. Within a playful, movement-focused class, students are also learning critical skills necessary to be successful throughout life.      

Museums and Libraries Supporting Healthy Communities
By Jill Connors-Joyner

Nearly 300 museum and library professionals attended the IMLS Focus conference on November 16-17, 2015 in New Orleans, LA. One of the sessions highlighted the work of museums and libraries in promoting healthy living. Presenters Annie Novak, Manager of the Edible Academy, The New York Botanical Garden; Mort Sajadian, President & CEO, Amazement Square; and Patrice Chamberlain, Director, California Summer Meal Coalition, Institute for Local Government, spoke about the importance of providing engaging programming and access to healthy food in their work. All three organizations support the work of Let's Move! Museums & Gardens.
The New York Botanical Garden has been a leader in organic vegetable gardening education for nearly 60 years. The Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden hosts daily children's activities including hands-on gardening activities, interactive programming about healthful eating, and cooking demonstrations. 

Children at the New York Botanical Garden
Children at the New York Botanical Garden

Amazement Square is a hands-on museum in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia, offering interactive exhibits and programs centered around play. In addition to exhibits and programs that encourage healthy living and physical fitness, Amazement Square partnered with regional healthcare provider Centra to develop a comprehensive, curriculum-based health program for students in kindergarten through seventh grade to address Lynchburg's youth obesity epidemic.

Amazement Square hosts the Amazing Mile Childrens Run with over 700 participants annually
Amazement Square hosts the Amazing Mile Childrens Run with over 700 participants annually

The California Summer Meal Coalition (CSMC) helps combat food insecurity and childhood obesity by ensuring low-income children and youth have access to healthy food when school is out by increasing access to USDA summer meal programs. The Coalition provides case studies of successful summer meal sites so museums and libraries don't have to reinvent the wheel.  Museums in California interested in joining the program can contact Patrice Chamberlain. Museums outside of California interested in participating in the Summer Food Service Program, can find more information through the USDA.

Submit a Success Story

If you wish to submit success stories, please email a 150-word article with photos to . In addition to your submitted photos, please be sure to include a signed copy of the  IMLS Photo Release form  (PDF).
See the   Let's Move! Museums & Gardens Toolkit (PDF) for additional programming and communication resources.

Let's Move! Museums & Gardens partners
Let's Move! Museums & Gardens  is led by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Children's Museums, the American Public Gardens Association, the American Association for State and Local History, the Association of African American Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Nature Center Administrators, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.