Child’s Play

Alumna fills senior role at Philadelphia museum where fun and learning go hand-in-hand

By Kim Hall  |  Photos by Malia Furukawa
Concetta Anne Bencivenga with children

“Again! Read it again!”

Anyone who has read a favorite book to a child recognizes the reaction that often accompanies the story’s end.

Children who visit Please Touch Museum, the Children’s Museum of Philadelphia, can explore its exhibits—including River Adventures, Flight Fantasy, Roadside Attractions, Wonderland, and more—as many times as they want, pretending to purchase items at a supermarket, peering out from a tree house, repairing a car, riding a carousel, or even wandering through a maze of mirrors to enjoy the Mad Hatter’s tea in the Wonderland exhibit.

“The goal of the museum is to launch children onto a lifelong continuum of learning where education occurs both inside and outside the classroom,” explained Concetta Anne Bencivenga, ’91, executive vice president of Please Touch Museum. “It’s all about imaginative play, getting down on the floor. A lot of parents get into it, too.”

Bencivenga recently supervised an $88 million project that is helping more and more children have the opportunity to learn through play, overseeing the museum’s transition to its new location at the historic Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. The new site allows Please Touch to accommodate nearly 500,000 more visitors per year than it could at its former, significantly smaller, location in Philadelphia’s museum district. In its first year at Memorial Hall, Please Touch Museum welcomed more than 675,000 visitors.

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“We went from being the little museum that could, to the museum that does,” said Bencivenga, who credits the success of the museum to its dedicated staff of approximately 200 employees. “Our goal is excellence in everything we do; and being excellent every day for more than 600,000 people is a major undertaking.”

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1 Comment

  • Posted by Adam | September 14, 2011

    What another great learning tool from a museum! I found another museum who is teaching children through doing a ‘relic guardians trail’ where they basically have a guide dressed in period costume of a historical figure & then have activities throughout the ‘trail’ that help the children become more active in what they are learning about which in turn makes them retain it more. This is the same concept only in a more playful way, I think that’s great & there should be more programs like this in the community.

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