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.
Lisa Van Deman
Executive DirectorLisa 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.
Director of DevelopmentWith 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Makery and Garden Coordinator
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.
Betsy Bennett - Co-Chair
Judy Jones - Secretary
Ray N. Fredrick, Jr.
Lisa Price - Co-Chair
Delores Bailey - Treasurer
Jon Mills - Vice Chair
Jennifer Jackson - Member at Large
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.
Howard & Lillian Lee
Susan & Tom Ross
Abdullah and Asuman Antepli
Lorna & Bill Chafe
Michael & Amy Tiemann
Ken & Margie Broun
Moses Carey & Peggy Richmond
James & Susan Moeser
Bill Ross & Susan Gravely
Roger & Ann Waldon
Woodrow & Catharine Burns
D. R. & Fran Bryan
DG & Harriet Martin
Florence & Jim Peacock
Stanley & Marion Robboy
Josh & Robin Gurlitz
Barbara Tyroler & David Cooper
Graig & Jennifer Meyer
Jim & Mary Sasser
Samia & Mohamed Serageldin
Hans Flinch & Nan Nixon
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!