Let's Move! Museums & Gardens



Museums and gardens of all types serve as trusted centers of learning and exploration. People of all ages and backgrounds visit these institutions to learn about the past and present, the natural and cultural world, and to be inspired through unique experiences. By participating in Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens, museums and gardens will educate children and families about healthy food choices and promote physical activity.

What is Let’s Move!?

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Working with parents, caregivers, schools, public officials, and communities, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. President Obama has created the first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity to conduct a government-wide review and to develop a national action plan to maximize federal resources and set concrete benchmarks. The five pillars of the initiative are:

  • Creating a healthy start for children;
  • Empowering parents and caregivers;
  • Providing healthy food in schools;
  • Improving access to healthy, affordable foods; and
  • Increasing physical activity.

What does it mean to participate in Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens?

Museums and gardens of all types – from children’s museums and public gardens to zoos, science centers, and art and history museums – are invited to participate in Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens. Participating institutions will commit to taking steps to ensure that they are meeting the goals of the program:

The museum or garden must commit to at least one of these two goals:

  • Offer interactive experiences or exhibits that provide messages about healthy choices to visitors.
  • Offer afterschool, summer or other programs that include messages about healthy choices.

If the institution offers food services, it must commit to at least one of the following:

  • Offer healthy food options in the food service operation.
  • Provide interpretation about healthy food choices and physical activity in the food service operation.

The museum or garden must also commit to sharing information with IMLS about its Let’s Move activities—this can be in the form of a short success story, a blog post, photos, or a video.

What are some examples of how this works in museums and gardens?

There are many terrific examples of how museums and gardens are already involved in these areas:

  • At the Children’s Museum of Houston’s (TX) PowerPlay exhibit, kids get active on a light-up dance floor and see how this activity affects their heart rate.
  • The Atlanta Botanical Garden (GA) opened an edible garden, which includes a green wall made from herbs and an onsite Outdoor Kitchen, featuring ‘Grow it and eat it’ cooking demonstrations.
  • The Sojourner Truth Multicultural Art Museum (CA) runs "Hip Hop to Wellness," addressing childhood obesity by involving the family in making healthy changes in diet and encouraging physical activities through programs such as the Oak Park Kids Run and Hip-Hop, African Dance and Salsa workshops.
  • The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Heirloom Farm (IL) offers access to healthy, affordable food and nutrition education through an outdoor exhibition, farm-to-school programs for local public schools, and food-focused museum tours and activities.
  • The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum has created a cardio workout exhibit designed to help Mississippi school kids win the battle against childhood obesity.

Who is coordinating the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiative?

Working in cooperation with the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the lead federal agency on this project. The initiative originally developed though a collaboration among the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), and the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) has now been broadened to include, the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC), American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and the Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA).

When did the program begin? How long will it last?

Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens officially began on June 1, 2011. IMLS is committed to the Let’s Move! initiative and encourages museums to get involved. Sign up now.

What is the role of the association partners?

National, regional, and state museum and garden associations can play a significant leadership role in this effort. First, they can sign on as official partners and be listed as such on the IMLS website. Second, they can encourage their membership to participate in the program. Service organizations have the power to bring this important effort to diverse populations. For example, while nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese, the numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese.

How many people will be reached by this effort?

With 35,000 museums, 850 million visits, and two-thirds of adult Americans visiting museums and gardens each year, these institutions have the ability to reach millions of children and their families with messages about how to live healthier lives. If museums and gardens incorporate healthy messages into their online exhibits and programs, these messages could be viewed an additional 542 million times each year through virtual visits. The use of social media can also expand the reach of this program exponentially.

How is this initiative being funded? Is there any grant money available to support Let’s Move!Museums & Gardens programs or exhibits?

This program is a collaboration supported by IMLS and the partnering organizations. IMLS supports many museum projects that provide important health messages to children and their parents and caregivers through IMLS funding opportunities.

My museum or garden is already focused on creating healthy environments for children and their families. How can I get involved?

Many institutions are already promoting physical activity and healthy eating. Getting involved with Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens is a tremendous way to highlight these existing efforts. Sign up now!

Who is determining whether our food service options are considered "healthy"?

There are many different standards for healthy food service and IMLS does not endorse any particular standard. The Centers for Disease Control and the USDA offer helpful information to help institutions make good service decisions. For examples, see pages 19 – 21 of Improving the Food Environment (PDF, 668 KB) and USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

What resources are available to help implement this initiative?

There are several excellent resources available. Please visit our resources page for more information.

Is there a Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens logo? Can I use it on my institution’s Web site and in promotional materials?

There is a Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens logo. Please visit the branding resources page for more details.

How do I share my institution’s Let’s Move! success stories?

If you wish to submit success stories, please email a 150-word article or 300-500 word blog post with photos to letsmovemuseumsandgardens@imls.gov. In addition to your submitted photos, please be sure to include a signed copy of the IMLS Photo Release form (PDF, 44 KB).

Who can I contact with additional questions?

Contact letsmovemuseumsandgardens@imls.gov with additional questions or for further information.