Story 07: Managing the Organization

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Written by Elaine Heumann Gurian

In trying to figure out why The Children's Museum's internal culture was so satisfying and why what we produced was so original, I am convinced it was because we never separated vision from accountability nor responsibility for the welfare of the group from creating the product. We internalized the human values we held dear and embedded them into institutional processes. We thought that administrating the organization could be part of the creative process. We never thought time or money management were beneath us. Rather, they were the levers that allowed us to control the work we did. We thought silliness became us, and we did not have to always be serious to do work that made a difference. We all worked with a novel mix of the new and untried within a value system more old-fashioned than we acknowledged or even knew at the time. We believed that we all held each other in trust. We knew we couldn't have done what we did without each other.

For me and for most of the other staff who worked there and left, we brought our lessons to other places and excelled. Wherever we went, we were always considered a little unconventional and odd. We missed each other and kept in touch. We remained each other's touchstones. While I suspect these memories are slightly sugar-coated and it was probably never really as good as I have written, the reality was wonderful enough and made us glad to have been there to participate in it.

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