About Hands On!

How it started, how it is going

Hands On! began its work as an informal network in 1994. It consisted of museum directors who wished to promote children’s museums in Europe. After an initial conference in the Netherlands in 1996, an official organization, with an orderly structure, statutes and a board of directors, was born. In March 1998, Hands On! Europe Association of Children Museums was founded in Portugal for the first time as an official non-profit making organization. The organization focused on the circularisation of children’s museums on an international level.

Since then, the European children’s museum scene has led to a large-scale rethinking in many traditional museums. An increasing number of high-quality children’s programmes have started to pop-up. Some institutions even created their own in-house children’s museum offering children and their families outstanding educational programmes. Because of this process, Hands On! decided to open up the organisation for all qualitatively valuable programmes for children in children’s  or other museums. This led to a new name of the organisation and in 2014, Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums was born.

Mission and vision

Hands On! believes that museums should encourage curiosity and imagination in the children who visit them. We recognize the role and significance of both collecting and non-collecting children’s museums. Hands On! is committed to the professionalisation of all museums that welcome children, not only in terms of exhibition design and programmes, but also in financial and personnel management.

Hands On! strives to act as a global leader, advocate and resource for organisations serving the learning needs of children. HO! heightens the visibility and recognised value of children in museums by branding museums as relevant places of learning and developing large-scale initiatives such as the Hands On! Conference and the Children in Museums Award.


The Board

  • Joerg Ehtreiber
    HO! President
    FRida & freD Children´s Museum in Graz, Director

  • Susanne Gesser
    HO! Vice President
    Junges Museum Frankfurt, Head of Museum

  • Marielle Pals
    HO! Secretary
    Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Head of Programmes

  • Adam Langer
    HO! Treasurer
    Sladovna Gallery in Prague, Director

  • Sabine Ischia
    HO! Member
    The Vaisseau, a science-centre in Strasbourg, Director

  • Andrea Zsutty
    HO! Co-opted Member
    Zoom Children´s Museum in Vienna, Director

The Office

  • Sarai Lenzberger
    Office Manager/Project Management

  • Aza Karimova
    Office Manager/Project Management

  • Maral Eghbalzadeh
    Communication Management

More about the Hands On! organisation:

Would like to join the movement?

Apply for certification or commit to the transformation which will make your organisation a Home of 21st Century Education.