Six months after taking leadership of the DuPage Children’s Museum, Sarah Orleans is at home in her new position. Whether in a staff meeting or out on the floor with visitors, she has a passion for finding new and fun ways for kids to learn.
Orleans, a New Jersey native, got her first major exposure to children’s museums when she helped open the Garden State Discovery Museum. That time in her life is what she credits for sparking her passion of educating kids.
“You could see that bringing that hands on learning and creating environments where children kind of had these whole body experiences and it was exciting,” said Orleans. “And that’s where I knew I had found the perfect place for myself.”
Orleans’ resume includes 20 years of experience in organizational leadership. Most recently she led the Portland Children’s Museum for eight years, experience that during the search process caught the board’s eye.
“She knew how to run a large museum and she helped grow it over time, which is what we are looking for,” said board member, Jim Sheehan. “We wanted someone who could really expand this museum for us.”
After starting in February, Orleans has put many ideas into motion, including new ways to use technology in the museum as well as a new exhibit coming this fall called XOXO An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness. It deviates from the traditional science exhibits typical to the museum; however teaching kids more about their feelings and emotions is something Orleans feels is pertinent in today’s society.
“There’s a part of the exhibit that you talking on the telephone and as you talk on the phone you’re getting this visual image in front of you that when you’re talking loud and aggressive a certain image comes in front of you,” said Orleans. “As you’re talking softly and gently softer images come up on the screen so I’m excited.”
Orleans said the museum’s reputation caught her attention, but it was the board and staff that solidified this was the place for her. An organization she could help continue to grow to educate many more children.
“What excites me every day is this idea that what we know about children and what we know about having been children ourselves is where they learn the best is where they are working hands on,” said Orleans.
Orleans replaced her friend, Sue Broad, who led the museum for 22 years.
For her contributions, Broad was given the honorary title co-founder when she retired last year.
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