Q&A: Mike Yankovich, President, Children’s Museum of Denver, on National Medal Win

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Courtesy Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

A longtime favorite locally, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is now being recognized on a national level.

Recently awarded the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest and most prestigious award a museum or library can receive, Denver’s Children’s Museum was joined by nine other winners. The award recognizes the museum’s access programs for Denver parents, children and the community as a whole. Whether it is providing low-sensory mornings for certain children or teaching them to make healthy food choices, the museum is a fun, immersive place for families to grow up.

We recently talked with Mike Yankovich, the museum’s president and CEO, to learn more.

How does the Children’s Museum contribute to the Denver community?
“We are about serving all children and families in our community, so we have a number of access programs including our SNAP access initiative; anyone with a SNAP card can get in for $1 per person, up to 10 people in their party. We have sponsored initiative programs through the schools, and all those children get free memberships to the museum. Part of what we offer is access to all—in the last year we served 568,000 community guests and friends, and 97,000 of them came through one of our access programs.”

What does it mean to the Children’s Museum, and to the staff, to have won this award?
“I think it’s an incredible recognition of the staff that we have here, who’s had a commitment to making sure we are representative of our community and provide access for all children and families. I think it’s also recognition and acknowledgement of the community that has supported our access programs. We were surprised, but thrilled for the acknowledgement of all the hard work and all the continued work on growing those access programs.”

Tell me about the different exhibits and programs the museum offers. 
“We focus on everything from arts to health and wellness. An example of that is our Artist-in-Residence Program, where local artists have a residency at the museum in one of our studios, and they work with our community and community guests, friends and visitors to the museum.”

How does the museum benefit young children and their parents?
“We are an educational museum that focuses on core competencies around health and wellness, art, STEM and technology, engineering and math and critical, creative thinking—all of those things that make for a successful grown-up and early social skills that children need before they can learn anything else.”

What upcoming exhibits can we look out for?
“One thing we’re really excited about, coming late this summer, is called ‘Adventure Forest.’ It’s a 500-foot-long aerial adventure course with rope swings, chimney climbs, a glass bridge. … And all of that will be a part of a larger art installation. It’s really a one-of-a-kind, outdoor aerial adventure course and art experience.”

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