Who We Are
We envision a world where all children, and the adults they grow up to be, experience the transformational and lifelong benefits of abundant, creative and purposeful play.
The Cayton Children’s Museum is a nonprofit organization that activates the power of PLAY to enrich the lives of children and their families, build stronger, more connected communities, and create a better world. We strive to nurture children of all backgrounds and abilities to become responsible citizens of the world by providing outlets for experiential learning and creative expression, both in our museum space and through our community programs.
Located in Downtown Santa Monica just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the Cayton Children’s Museum offers 21,000 square feet of discovery-based exhibits and immersive play. We offer a robust calendar of arts and cultural activities designed for children 0 to 8 and their families, including public programs, festivals, camps, classes, workshops and more.
Beyond museum walls, our community programs bring the Cayton experience beyond museum walls and into neighborhoods and schools to reach children with limited access to the museum. These experiences, which celebrate the creative, performance and visual arts, are offered throughout the year in partnership with non-profit and community-based organizations that target parts of Los Angeles County where safe and meaningful outlets for play are needed most.
While the Cayton Children’s Museum opened to the public in 2019, our organization comes with 30 years of experience in values-based learning. Before we were the Cayton, we were the Zimmer Children’s Museum, serving more than 90,000 visitors a year in our home on Museum Row. Today, building from the heart of the Zimmer and nurtured by the soul of our diverse community, the Cayton is inspiring children and families everywhere how to PLAY THEIR WAY TO A BETTER WORLD.
We believe people of all ages benefit from and need the inspiration, creativity, learning, connection, and freedom fostered by play.
We are a kid-centered organization. We trust, listen to, and learn from children, and we put their needs first in all our decision-making.
We provide a safe space where all kids and families belong. Our institution is inclusive and embraces the rich diversity of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, identities, family structures, and abilities of our community.
We know that big ideas emerge from collaboration, cooperation, and shared learning. This is also how kids (and adults) come to see the world through each other’s eyes and cultivate empathy, compassion, and kindness. Together we can accomplish great things.
Trying new things can be frightening for kids and grownups alike. But we believe that the surest way to achieve meaningful learning and growth is by taking risks. Stumbles and mistakes can be fertile ground for creativity.
We believe we owe it to our community to courageously and sensitively address issues that affect the lives of children—and us all. This includes honest conversations about social justice, race, and equity.
Albert Einstein. Plato. Mr. Rogers. What do all three have in common? They all believed in the power of play to improve lives, strengthen communities and shape a better world. Here are just some of the benefits of play:
Play improves academic performance
Play optimizes cognitive development, including critical thinking, problem solving and comprehension, to support learning and improve academic performance. Additionally, play-based learning is shown to enhance “whole child readiness” by helping develop language and early math skills. In fact, as public schools increasingly see cuts to arts education funding, educators are also looking to play to fill gaps where our educational system is lacking.
Play makes our world bigger
Children acquire cultural values, skills, and abilities through play that influence their everyday experiences and interactions with other children and caregivers. Play can also expose us to people that are different from us to promote empathy and create shared understanding. In recognizing, respecting and representing a range of different cultures and perspectives, children develop a sense of identity and belonging.
Play helps children thrive in an ever-changing world
Play is often called “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn how to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and process their surroundings. As our world continues to evolve, play also helps to mitigate a child’s toxic stress and enhance their resiliency so they can more easily adapt to change.
Play builds life skills
Through play, we learn how to communicate with others and self-regulate our emotions to improve our lifelong success. Play also gives us an outlet to explore curiosities in a low-risk environment, building courage and confidence.
Play benefits the economy
Nationally, children’s museums contribute $5.5 billion to the economy each year and are a vital element of the tourism and cultural sector. They also help to improve educational outcomes, attract diverse audiences and transform neighborhoods through community building and local partnerships.
Meet Our Team
President & Founder
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Advancement Officer
Guest Services Associate
Events & Guest Services Director
Community Programs Director
Communications & Marketing
Institutional Giving Manager
Guest Services Associate
Sr Director of Operations
Sr Operations Manager
Museum Programs Director
Board Of Directors
Richard A. Smith
Tamara S. Brandt
Hillary Mow Cervieri
Jennifer E. Cohen
Women’s Philanthropy Circle
Rayni Romito Williams
Jessica Fogel Scott
Jen Garcia Allen
Financials & Reports
Read our annual report to follow our journey from the grand debut of the all-new Cayton Children’s Museum through the momentous year that was 2020.
Click below to view our quarterly progress reports and see how the work we’re doing each day is helping us fulfill our mission.
As a non-profit organization, the Cayton Children’s Museum depends on the generosity of donors and foundations to make our work happen. In an effort to ensure fiscal transparency and accountability with those who generously support our efforts, please find our most recent audited financials and Form 990s below.
If you would like to review earlier financials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.