History

2011-2012:

Incubated the concept of a museum about adoption. This process included conversations with over 100 people from many different fields including: adoption, museums, the broader arts/culture community, social entrepreneurship, and social justice.

Contributed to “Making Mothers Visible”, a global art project developed by the International Museum of Women.

2013:

Founded the Adoption Museum Project.

Formed a Leadership Team. By design, half of the team has personal and diverse experiences of adoption, and half of the team does not.

Accepted into the Incubator Program of Intersection for the Arts, which provides fiscal sponsorship and support for emerging nonprofit arts organizations.

Developed Our Place at the Table: Honoring Birth Mother Stories, a pop-up exhibition about the diverse and complex experiences of birth/first mothers. This was followed by a literary and performance event. Both events brought birth/first mother voices and stories into public space.

Raised a first round of funding.

2014:

Invited by the Presidio Trust to co-curate the exhibition Operation Babylift: Perspectives and Legacies and a calendar of seven related public programs.

Presented smaller versions of Our Place at the Table: Honoring Birth Mother Stories exhibition at two events: American Adoption Congress annual conference, On Your Feet Foundation community event.

Prototyped Birdland, an interactive installation for young children and their families.

Presented work at the California Association of Museums conference (family diversity in museums and telling difficult stories), and  John F. Kennedy University museum studies program (museums and social change).

Joined the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

2015:

Began development of a map of the adoption ecosystem, to be used as a thinking tool and inspiration for future public-facing work.

Presented work at the Council of American Jewish Museums (storytelling) and the Western Museums Association (workplace culture).

Featured in the New York Times article, “Museums Showcase Attitudes and Beliefs as Well as Objects”.

After nearly a year in development, the exhibition Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies opened at the Presidio Officer’s Club in April, 2015.

Developed and presented seven public programs related to the exhibition Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies. 

Became a founding member of Museum Workers Speak: Bay Area, a grassroots organization that advocates for museums to align their internal practices with their stated commitments to public service and social change.

As we completed our first two years, we paused to clarify our vision and mission.

2016:

Graduate student Lacey Lieberthal completed a 5-month analysis of visitor reflection cards that were posted in the Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies exhibition. The project offers insights for the Adoption Museum Project and museum practice more broadly.

Building on our vision and mission, and in anticipation of strategic planning, we hosted a one-day Think Tank that focused on the systemic issues in adoption.

The Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies exhibition closed on April 3, 2016. It was extended twice due to strong visitor interest. The exhibition received over 30,000 visits and moved visitors in many different ways.

The American Alliance of Museums honored Operation Babylift: Perspectives & Legacies for excellence in label writing at its 2016 national conference.

Founder and Director, Laura Callen, received the Adoptee Trailblazer Award at the Adoption Initiative Conference.

Invested in a first strategic planning process. We defined our organizational identity, including our values and beliefs about adoption, the type of work we intend to do, and operational goals and strategies for the next three years.

Hired a Development Fellow to help build development infrastructure, shape development strategy, and contribute to organizational learning about fundraising and supporting staff.

Co-presented the film Khoya (Lost) and collaborated with Indian adoptee Nisha Grayson, who wrote a film review and interviewed film’s writer/director.

2017:

Launched Field Trips, a program that invites small groups to explore adoption through arts/culture in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Implemented software to help us develop meaningful relationships with our supporters: newsletter subscribers, collaborators and donors.

Fielded our first Supporter survey to learn more about the people who are connected with our work. (We filmed our live raffle awarding eight survey respondents with  a copy Lee Herrick’s book of poetry, “Gardening Secrets of the Dead”.)

Partnered with a University of Washington graduate student in museology to explore the question, what would a membership model for the Adoption Museum Project look like?

Spoke on a panel for the Cultural Connections program, “Walking the Talk: Museums Lead the Way on the Path of Social Justice”