About Engage Families

Learn about the Engage Families Project, why the USS Constitution Museum became involved with the work, and how this website can help you engage family audiences at your institution.

About this Site

In 2004, the USS Constitution Museum started the Engage Families project, dedicated to understanding and encouraging family engagement in cultural institutions. This website is the compilation of our research on the topic, as well as our experiences putting that theory into practice. The practical, actionable strategies you will find on this website can help with every phase of family engagement. From gaining an initial understanding of your audience to final evaluations, we share all we’ve learned here with you. Explore the site and use these tactics as the toolkit for engaging all ages at your institution!

About the USS Constitution Museum

The USS Constitution Museum initiated the Engage Families project to address institutional and industry questions about how best to engage families. We sought to identify characteristics of family exhibits and programs that result in active intergenerational engagement, enjoyment, and learning in museums and libraries. The project has been transformative for the museum. Developing exhibits and programs that appeal to different ages, interests, and learning styles has become one of the Museum’s core values.

Steering Committee, Project Team, and Project Advisors

Engage Families was the collaborative effort of many, including our USS Constitution Museum staff, consultants, and industry professionals. You’ll find the formative work of many of these industry professionals throughout this website.

Steering Committee:

  • Anne Grimes Rand
  • Sarah Watkins
  • Robert Kiihne
  • Lauren McCormack
  • Jon Christensen
  • Marilyn C. Solvay
  • Adriana Maksy

Project Team: 

  • Sarah Fitzpatrick
  • Burt Logan
  • Kristin Gallas
  • Jackie Hibbard
  • Jodie Smith
  • Jennifer Zanolli
  • Gary Foreman
  • Susan Reed
  • Rebecca Crawford
  • Sarah Dunbar
  • Christopher Kauffman
  • Maia Plantevin
  • Claire Grothe
  • Julia Da Silva
  • Lisa Ebel
  • Molly Braswell
  • Sarah Budlong
  • Margaret Mazz
  • Rusbel Ruiz Santana
  • Ethan Costello
  • Louise Akers
  • Bill Maraget
  • Amanda Grant
  • David Formanek
  • Michelle Driscoll
  • Julia Brucker
  • Bronwyn Low

Project Advisors:


  • Marianna Adams, President, Audience Focus (Project Evaluator)
  • Lynn D. Dierking, Sea Grant Professor in Free-Choice Learning, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (previously Associate Director, Institute of Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD)
  • Beverly K. Sheppard, Principal: BKS Consulting, Centreville, MD (previously President and CEO, Institute of Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD)
  • Heather Nielson, Head of Community and Family Programs, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
  • Maria Salvadore, Specialist Consultant in Children’s Literature and Family Literacy, Washington, DC
  • Shelley Quezada, Consultant, Library Services to the Underserved, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Boston, MA
  • April Mazza, Advisor for Youth & School Library Services, Massachusetts Library System, Marlborough, MA
  • Sarah Sogigian, Advisor for Youth Services, Massachusetts Library System, Marlborough, MA
  • Jessica Snow, Youth Services Coordinator, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
  • Kathy Rodriguez, Coordinator of Adult and Community Learning Services, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Malden, MA
  • Beth Fredericks, Program Director, Museums/Libraries Project, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA


  • Minda Borun, Director of Research, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
  • Joanne M. Curran, Assistant Dean, Division of Education, SUNY, Oneonta, NY
  • Lynn D. Dierking, Sea Grant Professor in Free-Choice Learning, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (previously Associate Director, Institute of Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD)
  • Cathy Donnelly, Exhibit Developer, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
  • Daniel J. Freas, Director of Museum Programs, Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN
  • Gail Ringel, VP of Exhibits and Production, Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA
  • Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, NY
  • Eric White, Director of Programs & Events, Boston Society of Architects, Boston, MA (previously Director of Education and Public Programs, Old Sturbridge Village, MA)



The Engage Families Project was made possible in large part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • 2013 National Leadership Grant [MG-10-13-0074-13]
  • 2008 21st Century Museum Professionals Grant [MP-00-08-0044-08]
  • 2004 National Leadership Grant [LG-22-04-0145-04]


Contact Us

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