Sarah Fisk is excited. In April, she started as the new executive director of the Children’s Museum at Saratoga on Caroline Street, and says she is thrilled to take on the opportunities and challenges.
“The museum has been a great resource for my family,” Sarah says as we walk through the first-floor exhibits. “My son and I would come here when he was little. We always enjoyed our time in the museum and shared great experiences here.”
The Children’s Museum at Saratoga offers an interactive educational experience for children (age 7 & under) and their parents. Set in a classic two-story Victorian building with a modern brick addition, the museum is a wonderland of diversity and imagination. On two floors, visitors will find entire miniature neighborhoods with interactive scenes that include Congress Park, a Silly Science Center, The Spa Little Theatre, and Happy’s Diner.
“It is a kid-friendly environment, but most of all it is a kid-driven environment,” Sarah points out as we watch kids prepare a meal for their parents in the tiny diner.
“Giving the children an opportunity to be in charge of their own learning and their own experiences — instead of constantly trying to control them and tell them ‘no, don’t do that’ — is not only unique, it is a very effective learning method.”
Sarah would know. She studied environmental science at Paul Smith College in the Adirondacks, and soon thereafter became an educator at the Junior Museum (Children’s Museum of Science and Technology) in Troy. Her responsibilities involved a variety of hands-on programs that included everything from in-depth science demonstrations to birthday parties. Her position there morphed into senior director of education before she took the new position at the museum in Saratoga Springs.
“The museum is a member of the National Association of Children Museums; they are in all parts of the U.S. Some are quite large, like the Boston Museum, and some are smaller like us,” she says. “Through this organization, museums are able to network and share resources.”
“One of the issues children’s museums face is that the demographic ‘ages out.’ Therefore, building lifelong relationships is a crucial part of our work. It is important that the whole community understands that we bring an important facet to the quality of everyone’s life,” Sarah explains.
“We have a great deal of support from the businesses here in Saratoga, and we are constantly looking for ways to leverage that. We are always creating new and better programs and finding methods to update the exhibits and spaces. We have enjoyed a strong bond with the people of Saratoga Springs, and we work hard to maintain it.”
As we discuss the nature of education, Sarah points out, “We must stimulate and develop the creative part of the child’s mind. No matter what professional path they may choose, it is crucial they have the ability to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. That is the most important thing we do.”