The new chief executive officer of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis says she believes it’s her responsibility to capitalize on the work that has been done by her predecessors. Jennifer Pace Robinson took over the role in May, succeeding the retiring Dr. Jeffrey Patchen. She says while the museum will continue with the types of exhibits that have made it successful in the past, they are also looking to the future, which includes more virtual resources.
Pace Robinson talked about her vision for the museum’s future in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“You’ll see lots of engaging activities for preschoolers, for families,” she said. “We’re going to be a tourist destination to come during the holiday season, during spring break. We’re going to continue our international relationships and make more international relationships because that really allows us to bring the world to Indianapolis through our Take Me There exhibits and on the horizon, we’ve got some really big dinosaur bones.”
Pace Robinson has been with the museum for nearly 30 years, holding a variety of positions, including executive vice president before being named CEO. She was the original lead on the Dinosphere exhibit, which is now going through another transformation.
She says it’s critically important for the museum to know what its visitors want to see.
“We know, for example with dinosaurs, almost 90% of the people who walk through our doors go into the Dinosphere exhibit and when we started that experience, we did so much market study of what do kids want to see when they walk in the door and dinosaurs was right there near the top,” she said.
In 2019, the museum announced a $27 million project involving a paleontological dig in Wyoming known as the Jurassic Mile. She says the discoveries found there will lead the next iteration of the Dinosphere.
“We’re going to be repurposing the space so you feel like you’re traveling back in time to the Jurassic world and you’re going to be encountering the giant specimens that come out of that space,” said Pace Robinson. “And things are different now. When I project managed the original opening in 2004, technology has come so far that confluence of amazing real objects, but also the backdrops and the sound and the light that you can use now really will help people feel like they’re somewhere new.”
Pace Robinson says the pandemic has led to the discovery of the benefits of virtual offerings mixed with on-site attractions.
“One thing that I found out is it takes just as many people to do the virtual as it does to do the on-site. We were able to reach families in England and schools in Kentucky, and let’s keep that momentum going but make sure that we look at all the resources that we have available and that we reserve enough for those in-person visitors who are starting to come back again.”