Michael Radtke
Lead Museum Coordinator
Ngage New Mexico

Children’s Museum Impacts Education Doña Ana County




A children’s museum is a gateway for children and caregivers to bond and learn through play, inspire their creativity, foster their curiosity, and lay the groundwork in developing lifelong learners, as they grow into educated, successful, and engaged adults. The SUCCESS Partnership and Ngage New Mexico are thrilled to support our community by providing a first of its kind Children’s Museum and Family Resource and Information Center. As our state begins to reimagine education, we believe that the Children’s Museum can play a large part in formal education by supplementing schools and preschools, hands-on, open-ended educational experiences.

The idea of bringing a Children’s Museum to our area has been slowly building momentum for the last five years. Behind the scenes, work has been done in developing partnerships with businesses, nonprofits, and other cross-sector stakeholders to leverage our local community-based assets. A museum committee facilitated by Ngage New Mexico seeks to develop these partnerships and invite those that are interested in sharing ideas to join us. Since its inception, we have implemented a 3-phase approach to launching the Children’s Museum. Each phase of development seeks to offer hands-on, opened-ended learning experiences.

Phase 1:  Conducted between summer 2018-2019 and in partnership with Cruces Creatives, we developed pilot exhibits that were brought to community events and community centers and integrated into partner programming. These exhibits were designed to collect data on the community’s desire and needs regarding a Children’s Museum.

Phase 2: Develop and launch a Mobile Museum. The Mobile Museum will be designed to carry exhibits and resources to all parts of our county.

Phase 3: Develop the first-ever brick and mortar Children’s Museum and Family Resource and Information Center in Las Cruces.

There is still a lot of work to do for this project to get it off the ground, including giving the museum a name. The vision for this museum is to reflect the multicultural nature of our county and represent every facet of our diverse population.  We hope that this will be a genuinely community-based initiative guided by our community in its name, values, and experiences. We need to hear from children, parents, caregivers, teachers, classrooms, and youth groups.

Beginning October 7th, we are asking the community to visit www.SuccessDAC.org. Please read the instructions and submit your suggestions. If your name is chosen, we will use that name for the museum, and you will receive a $100 prepaid card!

For many of us, 2020 has been a very trying year, doubly so for educators, parents, and students; This year has presented challenges unlike any we’ve faced before and exposed existing barriers in our community with an intensity that we were not fully prepared to handle. However, throughout this time, the SUCCESS Partnership and the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition have continued working to develop strategies around education that are not only reactive to current events but serve as interventions to curb disparities in education and child development in our county.

The juxtaposition of a global health pandemic and statewide, the Yazzie-Martinez education lawsuit are clear indications that the way we look at health and education is about to change rapidly and drastically. As a county, how can we be leaders in educational attainment for our state and nation? How do we put Southern New Mexico on the map as a destination for tourism and industry? Tremendous opportunities are arising from the long-standing values we’ve held, by way of attracting emerging industry and developing great minds locally. The Children’s Museum Committee is offering a creative approach to leverage this moment in our history. In partnership with the City of Las Cruces and numerous individuals and stakeholders, we are bringing forward the first Children’s Museum for Doña Ana County. This Children’s Museum will be coupled with a Family Resource and Information Center that will integrate strategies to ensure that children are born into healthy homes, the early childhood education workforce is supported, and children are ready for school.

We believe that we can affect positive systematic change by giving families and caregivers the tools to form healthy habits and an inclination towards education and life-long learning. By impacting children and families early on, we can create a ripple effect across the education continuum, giving children the best opportunity for success in school and life.