Mission / History



To provide educational programs and exhibits with an emphasis on play and hands-on learning for all ages and backgrounds in the arts, environmental studies, history and the world cultures that inspire, enrich and improve the lives of East Tennessee children and their families and to collect and preserve artifacts that support the Museum’s educational goals.

Strategic Plan

Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge
Strategic Plan Summary 2013-2018

• Raise $275,000 in Corporate Sponsorships (5 years)
• Raise $350,000 in non- membership earned revenue (5 years)
• Increase operating cash reserve to at least 30 months (12 months)
• Develop a plan for increasing the museum’s endowment (12 months)

• Create and implement a defined marketing strategy (12 month) (Ongoing)
• Create an event and promotion strategy to take full advantage of the 40th anniversary (12 months)
• Develop a system to manage PR/Marketing to achieve a regional identity (5 years)
• Increase out-of-area visits by 25% (12 month)
• Increase out-of-area visits by 100% to ensure status of destination museum (5 years)

• Increase membership level to 1000 members (2 years)
• Increase membership revenue to at least $150,000 (5 years)
• Ensure member retention remains at 75% or better

• Create a plan to maximize the use of the current facility and land (12 month)
• Complete a 10 year facilities plan (5 years)

Human Resources
• Have a FTE fundraiser on staff (5 years)
• Define the annual professional development program for board, staff, and volunteers and implement (12months)
• Fully implement an annual professional development program for board, staff and volunteers. (5 years)
• Create a clearly defined system to identify and assign roles and responsibilities for board and staff members to ensure a seamless transition from idea to implementation on all key initiatives (12 month)
• Create and implement a volunteer leadership program to engage volunteers in higher level leadership activities for events and programs (12 months)
• Integrate museum programs with core standards (3 years)
• Identify the next exhibit to be updated and begin development (12 months) (ongoing)
• Healthy Living exhibit should be fully funded and initiated (5 years)
• Apply to AAM’s MAP to attain accreditation (3 years)

• Research and develop a comprehensive technology plan for the museum (12 months)
• Develop and implement a technology based integrated system such as Blackbaud to track (5 years)


The Children’s Museum was conceived in 1973 as a Girl Scout project by Troop 69 and its leader, Joyce Maienschein. It was formally opened on March 11, 1973 in the library of the former Jefferson Junior High School in 2,000 square feet of space and later moved to the former Highland View Elementary School in January 1974. The museum purchased the building and land from the city of Oak Ridge in 1983 and now operates in 54,000 square feet with exhibits, classes and programs for all ages.

Selma Shapiro

Selma Kravit Shapiro was the driving force behind the museum’s growth for 31 years, serving as its first executive director.  Selma’s vision has made the museum what it is today.  After her retirement in 2004 she continued to work as a volunteer until shortly before her death in 2011.  Selma received the Governor’s Award for the Arts, the Gordon Holl Arts Administrator Award from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Vocational Service Award from the Oak Ridge Rotary Club.  She served as national president of the Association of Youth Museums (now the Association of Children’s Museums) and was inducted into the American Association of Museum’s Centennial Honor Roll.  We miss Selma greatly, but she has left a lasting legacy for Oak Ridge and  East Tennessee.