OMA Award Spotlight - AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children's Museum 

Recognizing excellence in Ohio museums during Arts and Humanities Month

To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2018 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. Originally published in May, we are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights again during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.

The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.

Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.

Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2018 award winners! 

Today, we'll be finishing up the celebration of this year's award winners by featuring the recipient of the 2018 award for Institution of the Year.

AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children's Museum

AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children’s Museum was founded in 2007 by a group of parents with a 4,500 square-foot rented facility that welcomed 14,000 their first year.

Fast forward 11 years, and AHA! has grown to a new, purpose built 8,000 square foot building with a half-acre nature playscape (all completed in 2018), and welcomed over 41,000 guests.

With a goal to instill a sense of pride and strengthen ties to the community, construction was accomplished with a $950,000 dollar, four-year capital campaign, and over $250,000 in grants, private donations and in-kind contributions.

The mayor of Lancaster explained the museum’s vital importance to the community by saying, “AHA! is a gem. It is a place of wonder, excitement, challenge, squeals, adventure, curiosity, study, exercise, and just plain fun.

“This entity has become a major attraction for local and out-of-town families as an educational play place and gathering space. The staff doesn’t restrict its activities to their home location, but takes AHA! on the road to provide kids activities at events, including the weekly Farmer’s Market, the summer outdoor Downtown Saturday Cinema series, parades, and festivals.”

“The museum adds another significant reason for visits and re-locations to Lancaster, and we recognize it as a popular tourist attraction and economic development resource.”

The steady growth of AHA! A Hands-On Adventure is strong evidence for the improvements in quality-of-life that museums bring to their communities.

Do you know an institution that embodies the best of what Ohio museums can be? Be sure to nominate them for the 2019 award for Institution of the Year! Learn more here.