About Us

At Kidzu —make, build, explore and learn— an adventurous expanded Museum experience for age infant to tween. Kidzu’s new 8,500 square foot space is multi-sensory, play-centered, and focused on providing area children and their families, teachers, and caregivers an ever-changing menu of exhibits and programs that inspire creativity, collaboration and community. Kidzu Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum dedicated to inspiring young children and the adults in their lives to learn through purposeful play. We are planning to expand to a much larger site in the next few years. Read on to learn more about where we’ve been, what we’re up to, and where we’re headed.
With a focus on STEM education, the arts, child health and emerging literacy, Kidzu Children’s Museum inspires children and the adults in their lives to learn through creative, purposeful play.

Kidzu’s vision is to be a national model of excellence as a community-centered children’s museum. That is, to effectively serve, celebrate and reflect the community through unique, place-based experiential exhibits and programs that promote 21st century skill-building and family engagement.

Kidzu’s Core Values

Kidzu is built on the premise that nurturing a child’s creativity will build confidence, lead to innovative problem-solving, and position a child for adult success.

Kidzu believes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that collaboration results in bolder impact. We encourage collaboration through the design of our activities, and we practice collaboration internally and externally in all of our work.

Kidzu believes that a children’s museum serves as an integral community hub for children, families and those who care about them. Children’s museums level the playing field, with inclusivity at the core of their philosophy. At Kidzu every child is valued, every family is welcome and diversity is celebrated.

Kidzu is committed to an agile and sustainable infrastructure while meeting museum goals and the changing needs of the community we serve. Our business model and organizational culture reflect a dedication to service and to sound financial stewardship.

Play as Lifelong Learning
Kidzu is founded on the premise that through play, children learn. The learning process is infinite, and we believe that age is irrelevant when it comes to discovery, engagement and enjoyment. No matter what your age, there is always something interesting and new to explore at Kidzu.

Research + Best Practices
Kidzu embraces research as a guiding tool to create our visitor experience and to inform our community on everything related to the healthy development of the whole child. We invest time and resources to ensure the implementation of the museum best practices in all that we do.











Kidzu Children’s Museum wouldn’t be here without the support of our friends and neighbors. The museum has always relied heavily on students from UNC Chapel Hill and area high schools to keep Kidzu running on a day to day basis. Kidzu prides itself on being a starter job for young people to help prepare them for entry into the workforce after college. We partner with more than 100 community organizations who provide our visitors access to a realm of sensory experiences.

Our Team
Lisa Van Deman

Lisa Van Deman

Executive Director

Lisa has more than 20 years in museum leadership and administration. She holds a MFA in theatre, and a BA in American literature and American history from Washington University.


Kate Sullivan

Kate Sullivan

Director of Development

With 15 years in non-profit administration, Kate is a former executive director of Trail Blazers – an experiential education based residential program. Kate holds a BA in theatre and sociology from Surrey University.


Melanie Hatz Levinson

Melanie Hatz Levinson

Creative Director

Melanie has nearly 30 years of museum experience. She joined Kidzu in 2007 and has overseen the museum’s expansion from a 2000 to 10,000 SF facility. Previously, Melanie worked for over a decade on the curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Michigan, and holds graduate degrees in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University and the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.


Kailey Singleton

Kailey Singleton

Visitor Services + Membership Director

Kailey has over 8 years experience working with adults and children with special needs and worked as a vocational specialist. She’s also volunteered for over 4 years at a therapeutic horseback riding program. She has been with Kidzu since August 2015.


Christy Parrish

Christy Parrish

Program Manager

Christy has a diverse background in the non-profit and corporate worlds. She has been working with children and families for over 12 years. She has a BA in International Studies from UNC. When she’s not engaging young minds at Kidzu, she spends her free time at the beach.


Sabrina Varney

Sabrina Varney

Administrative & Special Projects Manager

Sabrina has served in multiple capacities with Kidzu since 2013. She currently provides administrative oversight, plans our adult nights and assisted with oversight and installment of Kidzu’s Pop-Up Museum while ensuring upkeep of current exhibit spaces. She has a BS from UNC and previous non-profit experience working with children. In her free time, she plays volleyball and tackles home improvement projects.



Hannah Stewart

Hannah Stewart

Lead Designer Exhibits + Graphics

Hannah joined the team in 2019 but has volunteered with us since 2017. She worked as a fine art designer for over 6 years. She has educational design experience from interning at the NCMA and as an international teacher in Thailand. Hannah has a BFA from East Carolina and recently finished her masters in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. When she is not at the museum she enjoys jogging and sampling fine cheese. 



Alison Davis

Alison Davis

Field Trip Coordinator

Alison joined the Kidzu team in August 2019 after teaching in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system for 5 years. She loves this opportunity to share in new scientific, hands-on experiences with kids of all ages. Alison has a BS in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University and coordinates all field trips and School’s Out Camps at Kidzu.


Allie Lee

Allie Lee

Outdoor Learning Coordinator

Allie has been a part of the Kidzu educational team since 2019. Previously, she worked for seven years in education and programs at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Victoria in her home province of British Columbia. In her spare time she loves to garden and ride her bike.


Isabel Hutchen-LaPrelle

Makery and Garden Coordinator





Development Coordinator




Vanessa Rivero

Vanessa Rivero

Marketing Associate

Vanessa has been a part of Kidzu since 2018 and started off as an intern. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2019 with a Bachelors in Biology and is currently studying at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health to get her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Maternal, Child, and Family Health. Vanessa enjoys traveling and spending time in the mountains.  


Our Board of Directors

The Kidzu Board of Directors is a volunteer group of experts from the business, education, legal, development and non profit communities. The Board of Directors meets once a month and the Board Committees meet various times throughout the year. For more information on the Kidzu Board please contact Lisa Van Deman, Kidzu’s Executive Director.

Betsy Bennett - Co-Chair

Judy Jones - Secretary

Ray N. Fredrick, Jr.

Will Lloyd

Lisa Price - Co-Chair

Delores Bailey - Treasurer

Annelise Hardin

Pam Zornick

Jon Mills - Vice Chair

Jeff Fisher

Pat Heinrich

Amanda Miller

Jennifer Jackson - Member at Large

Elaine Foster

Mark Kleinschmidt

Ed Spence MD

Museum Circle Members

The Kidzu Museum Circle is a group of valued community members advising and supporting Kidzu as we work to enhance learning through play and make sure we have a “museum for all” for our community. We couldn’t do this work without their support. Please contact Kate Sullivan, Development Director with any questions.

Todd Boyette

Maggie Connolly

Howard & Lillian Lee

Jon Mills

Susan & Tom Ross

Abdullah and Asuman Antepli

Lorna & Bill Chafe

Michael & Amy Tiemann

Ken & Margie Broun

Moses Carey & Peggy Richmond

Joel Levy

James & Susan Moeser

Tom Kenan

Mark Sherburne

Bill Ross & Susan Gravely

Roger & Ann Waldon

Woodrow & Catharine Burns

D. R. & Fran Bryan

DG & Harriet Martin

Florence & Jim Peacock

Stanley & Marion Robboy

Sallie Shuping-Russell

Josh & Robin Gurlitz

Barbara Tyroler & David Cooper

Anthony Carey

Betty Kenan

Graig & Jennifer Meyer

Sharon Palsha

Jim & Mary Sasser

Samia & Mohamed Serageldin

Hans Flinch & Nan Nixon

Founding Museum

105 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill 2006 – 2011
Kidzu Children’s Museum opened its doors in March 2006 at 105 E. Franklin Street. In this site, Kidzu served more than 150,000 visitors, provided dozens of educational programs, offered outreach programs to children in need, hosted traveling exhibits from around the nation, and created Kidzu’s first original exhibit, “KidZoom: The Power of Creativity!” Soon after opening, we began searching for a much larger site for Kidzu, where we could meet the substantial demand for our services and become a lasting part of our community. The Town of Chapel Hill generously agreed to provide Kidzu with a new site for the museum atop the Wallace Parking Deck in downtown Chapel Hill.

University Square Location

123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill 2011 – 2013
In November 2011, Kidzu moved across Franklin Street to a sunny new location at University Square. This beautiful, affordable interim site allowed Kidzu to continue serving the community as we planned our permanent museum on the Wallace Plaza. At Kidzu2, visitors enjoyed our popular KidZoom exhibit, a wide array of weekly programs, special programming with Kidzu’s UNC and community partners, field trips, birthday parties, Free Sundays, and much more.

Launch Pad: University Place

201 S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill Launch Pad 1: February 2014 – July 2014
Launch Pad 2: April 11, 2015- Present
In the February of 2014, Kidzu Children’s Museum moved to University Place (formerly University Mall). From 2014-2015, Kidzu moved around the mall in three different locations: first in a 10,000 sq. ft location which was formerly the Chapel Hill Public Library space, then to a smaller temporary location that was a focused Makery and programs space. Finally we found our home in 8,500 sq. ft. space that acts as our Launch Pad location. This bright and airy location now provides full range of opportunities inline with Kidzu’s Launch Pad initiative. This location allows Kidzu to expand creative design-thinking, create new programming including maker workshops and STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Math) education, and help prepare us to grow even bigger n the future. New exhibit elements, expanded programming, more field trips, better birthday parties and much more are always in the works.

Continuing to Grow

Kidzu’s primary goal has always been to develop a permanent museum of adequate size with outdoor space and room for growth to best serve the children and families of our growing community. Kidzu’s Launch Pad at University Place is a taste of the kinds of exhibits and activities the museum would feature in a permanent location, as well as other exhibits, program spaces, classrooms and outdoor exhibits that would serve, celebrate and reflect the academic and cultural richness of our community. In early 2015, the Kidzu Board of Directors voted to spend the next 8-12 months exploring site and partnership options that would be financially feasible yet able to accommodate Kidzu’s educational vision. We invite you to get involved with Kidzu and help us build a permanent museum that serves all children in our community and inspires learning through creative play!

Kidzu friends, we are closed to the public temporarily due to COVID-19. Click the link for the full statement from our Executive Director. 


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