ENew dVenture Children’s Museum CEO Andy Marquart said the driving force behind every decision he makes will be what the community around him wants to see.
Marquart began at the EdVenture museum in downtown Columbia on June 28, following the departure of its former leader at the end of 2021. He comes into the role as the organization enters its second decade of operation.
“We really need to sit down with the people who use the museum every day…” Marquart said. “We really have to sit down with these people and ask them, what do you want? What do you want to see?”
He comes from Tennessee after serving as the CEO of Hands On! children’s museum for nine years. There he overcame the building’s financial and dilapidated infrastructure in Johnson City and formed a partnership with East Tennessee State University that “has taken the museum to every level imaginable”, according to the WJHL television station in Johnson. City.
Now he comes to a museum that has seen its admission revenue drop by 38% since 2017. He said the situation was “nothing awkward” as he reviewed the work.
“It’s just a matter of rolling up our sleeves and getting into the lines of the museum and figuring out if we’re doing everything we can right from a budget standpoint,” Marquart said.
Marquart said admission revenue should cover basic expenses, such as salaries, utilities and cleaning costs. Donor income, he said, will fund exhibits and special projects and come from meetings with community leaders and organizations.
These partnerships with organizations, such as non-profit organizations or educational institutions such as the University of South Carolina or Benedict College, will allow EdVenture to fill the learning gaps that students may encounter in class.
A learning gap is defined as what a student has learned and is expected to know at a certain time.
“EdVenture is a learning institution. It has to be strong with partnerships to really fulfill its mission,” Marquart said.
Jamelle Ellis, a board member since 2018, said it’s important to provide opportunities to bridge these learning gaps because people can learn in ways that aren’t fully supported in the classroom. . She said EdVenture can give people the opportunity to learn in a way that works best for them.
By building relationships with the community and seeing what they want from the museum, Marquart said he hopes to bring a more diverse audience to EdVenture.
He said children’s museums struggled to reach minorities and other underrepresented groups and that it was essential for a museum to be able to bring these groups to the museum through community partnerships.
Ellis said Marquart has a particular interest in STEM programming and bringing more women into STEM-related fields.
Asked about his long-term vision for the museum, Marquart said he’ll have to figure that out as he goes. For now, he said he will spend the first few days getting to know the staff who run the building, a place he says has “so much potential”.
“I think any museum director would be really excited about the building’s potential and what it has to offer,” Marquart said.
EdVenture is best known for an exhibit featuring a 40-foot-tall, 10-year-old boy named Eddie that visitors can walk through to learn more about how the body works. The museum also operates a location in Myrtle Beach.