Follow Friday: Boston Children’s Museum

Director of Public Relations Jo-Anne Baxter tells us about some of the inspiring moments she's encountered and shared on social media at the museum.

boston childrens museum exterior

Photo by Margaret Burdge

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If you imagine working at a kids’ museum would bring about some pretty inspiring stories, you’d be right. The Boston Children’s Museum in Fort Point has entertained generation after generation of families from Boston and beyond, and as parents and grandparents bring back their own kids and grandkids, visiting the museum turns into a family tradition for many locals.

These days, with social media, touching stories find their way to a brand-new audience. Here, PR director Jo-Anne Baxter, who manages the Boston Children Museum’s Facebook, Twitter, and so on tells us some of her favorite memories from working at the museum.

How many people run Boston Children Museum’s various social media accounts? How do you manage all of them?

As with many nonprofits, Boston Children’s Museum’s employees wear many hats. The Director of Public Relations manages the social media channels with the exception of the blog which is managed by the education staff.

What are the goals for the museum on social media, and where does your content usually come from?

The goals are to further the mission through informal education, make connections, and sustain those connections through engaging content and articles. Many of our social media followers visited the museum as children and are now parents or grandparents. Several followers were originally from Boston who visited the museum as children and moved to other parts of the country or world. We have social media followers in nearly 50 countries. Social media content typically comes from the creative, artistic, enthusiastic museum staff who are more than thrilled to share their thoughts and ideas with our followers and friends.

In three words, describe the voice of museum’s social media.

Fun. Inform. Educate.

Do you post knowing that most people on social media are adults, even though it’s a children’s museum?

The museum’s outreach is developed for the caregivers in children’s lives. We encourage families to visit and enjoy all the interactive, hands-on exhibits together to create lasting memories.


Photo by Clive Grainger Provided via Boston Children’s Museum

What’s the most outstanding moment with kids that you’ve encountered at the museum?

Before we started the MorningStar Access, two young children—Greer and Matthew—came for a private visit with their families. These children both had severe immune deficiency disorders. Their mothers had written to the museum asking about any programs that we offered for children like Greer and Matthew. At the time, we did not have our MorningStar Access, so we planned a small, private visit for the two families and their health aides. We sanitized the exhibits, planned special activities, and staffed for the occasion.

When the families came, Greer and Matthew were able to enjoy the museum for the first time. They were taken out of their wheelchairs and were able to experience the climb with assistance from their aides. At one point, Greer looked at her mom and said, “Look mom. I am climbing.” I will never forget the look of pure excitement on her face. And her mom was just as happy. It made all the preparation and extra work worth it! Greer and Matthew had a fantastic experience and were the inspiration for our MorningStar Access.

How about with adults?

On the last Friday of every month, we have our KidsJam dance party. In July and August, the program was held outside under the tent. It was so wonderful to see parents and caregivers dancing alongside the children. At one point in the evening during July’s dance party, the DJ played a Michael Jackson song. One of the grownups was so excited to hear that song. She busted out into a full dance and had the biggest smile ever on her face. She didn’t care what she looked like or who was watching. Her inner child came out! She had a fabulous time dancing and letting go and playing. As adults, we often forget how important and magical these moments can be. And it is nice to have the program at the museum to provide such moments for children and their grownups.

Which social media account is the strongest channel for the museum? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?

Facebook is the strongest, most developed social media channel and is a “must-follow.”

What aspect of the museum seems to resonate most with audiences? Any particular exhibits? Arthur? The Milk Bottle?

I would say Bubbles, the Japanese House, and the Milk Bottle. Bubbles is an exhibit that grownups and kids do together. People of all ages love making bubbles. And because it is something that visitors can do at home on a smaller scale, everyone can relate to it. People associate Bubbles with the Museum—this is evident when we do Bubbles at Fenway.

Bubble Girl and Dad

Photo by Tim Porter Provided via Boston Children’s Museum

What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or most outspoken feedback you’ve gotten via social media?

The museum hosts Boston Grown-Ups Museum events for those 21-plus. The average guests’ age range is 21 to 35. We usually get some great comments following these events. More than once, we have received comments saying, “This was the best night of my life, and I got a Hoodsie, too!”

BGM - Dance

Photo provided by Boston Children’s Museum

BGM - Hoodsie

Photo provided by Boston Children’s Museum

Since you’ve been with the museum, what has been your personal favorite story to share on social media?

My personal favorite social media post was one written when five-year-old Ollie returned one of the museum’s golf balls. A package arrived in the mail with a small lump in it. When it was opened by one of our education staff, a golf ball fell out accompanied by a handwritten note. Ollie, a five-year-old from upstate New York who had recently visited with his family, wrote to apologize for borrowing one of our golf balls without permission and returned it to us with a note of apology. I scanned the note and posted it to Facebook. We were flooded with likes, shares, and comments about the character of the boy and the great example his parents have set.

BCM - Golf Ball

Photo provided via Boston Children’s Museum


Responses have been edited and condensed.