Our Foundation and Our Values
The Children’s Creativity Museum (originally Zeum) was founded through a downtown San Francisco community redevelopment effort in the 1990s. Our 20+ years operating at the cross-section of art-and-technology infuses a “look - and please touch!” experience rarely found in museums. By providing a safe environment for children to engage in play-based learning, explore their curiosities, and tackle hands-on design challenges, we build essential creative confidence and collaboration skills.
We serve as a gathering place for families from diverse backgrounds and our Yerba Buena neighborhood is one of California’s 14 cultural districts (SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District). Our museum has always been led by a director of color, and people of color are equally represented on our board and staff. When our community gathers to play, creativity and collaboration follows regardless of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or income.
Our Approach to Learning
We infuse all educational programming with our “Imagine-Create-Share” creativity cycle. Staff are trained to deepen learning experiences, as we know that early exposure to art-and-science - often known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) - charts a course for a child’s future.
From animation, crafting, and theater games to science experiments and design challenges, our suite of play experiences encourages children to explore their passions, express their emotions, problem-solve, work together in teams, and develop their own sense of agency to support lifelong learning.
Our theory of change (shown below) nurtures children’s creative confidence through well-designed activities, interactions with caring adults using open-ended inquiry, and sufficient time (20+ minutes per activity) to get into creative “flow.”
Examples of learning through play in our exhibits include:
- LEGO Animation Studio: Children (and adults!) learn the basics of stop-motion animation in our signature museum experience. First, children are encouraged to work through the storyboarding process: what will their characters encounter and overcome? Then, using a large variety of LEGO bricks, minifigures, and accessories as design tools, children create characters and settings to illustrate their stories. Stations are equipped with tablets and stop-motion software, and staff are available to answer questions or offer support. Visitors can experiment with different techniques to create their movies, which can then be saved and shared with family and friends. Skills: visual design, creative problem-solving, experimentation, architecture, storytelling, computer technology
- Design Studio Challenges: Using everyday objects and recycled materials, children can tackle a Mystery Box Challenge using a handful of design “ingredients” to prototype an invention in response to a challenge. Children share, test, and refine their designs. There are no wrong answers and children can repeat the experience with completely different results each time! We emphasize process over product to reinforce the notion of learning through play. Skills: engineering, design thinking, environmentalism, art, problem-solving
- Making Music Studio: Our newest permanent exhibition uses visual, tactile, and kinetic experiences to nurture creativity through musical expression. Visitors can create their own musical instruments and craft musical tracks using sampled and self-created music. This exhibition was made possible in part through support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Skills: music, fine motor skills, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, technology
Our Commitment to Parents, Educators, and Caregivers
We honor the important role parents, educators, and caregivers play in a child’s growth. We are committed to developing children’s and adults’ creative confidence to extend their learning beyond the museum.
Want more? Check out our Create @ Home web page to find outdoor and at-home activities that support your child(ren)’s growth wherever and whenever they feel inspired to create!