Peter Claffey hit the ground running when he became the executive director of the Knock Knock Children’s Museum in May, and he hasn't had a chance to even slow down.
The museum is always, always busy with its six-day a week schedule, which brought in more than 200,000 visitors in its first year.
Now plans are in high gear for the Knock Stock Children's Music Festival, an August two-day extravaganza of music and groovy activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.
Claffey is also working on a strategic plan for the museum, which opened in August 2017 and in 2018 was named the Museum of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Museums.
“Knowing how successful Knock Knock has been since its inception … it’s impressive what has been done and the vision,” said Claffey. “There’s such passion here for this museum … that drives you.”
One of the first things he did after arriving in Baton Rouge was meet with the Knock Knock staff of about 20 people. He said he wanted to know “why we do what we do and how we do it.” He also immediately met with BREC officials as well as the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
“I wanted to know what needs they thought we weren’t addressing,” added Claffey. “We need input from the community as we develop a strategic plan going forward.”
But, Claffey admitted, he already has a few ideas.
“I’m a tinkerer,” he confessed. “I like to take things apart and put them back together. I’m a very spatial person … I already have ideas for re-envisioning the upstairs.”
With its 18 Learning Zones, the museum has lots to offer the younger set. From the Go Go Garage to the Pelican Pantry to the Ship Shape Health Challenge, youngsters can flex their creative and physical muscles.
One of Claffey’s favorite zones is the three-story Storybook Climber, a safe, interactive, vertical maze that's fun while also teaching problem-solving, spatial thinking, balance, social interaction and cooperation.
“A lot of what is right about the museum industry is in that exhibit,” said Claffey of the climber, which was designed by Spencer Luckey, a noted architect of climbing structures. “The fact that we’re able to have this in our community is awesome.”
For more information on KnockStock, visit the website knockknockmuseum.org/knockstock/