XOXO mobile experience from Children’s Museum is helping Pittsburgh heal
In the aftermath of the Tree of Life shooting, educators and community groups around the city turned to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. They were looking for some kind of guidance, some curriculum — anything to help their corner of Pittsburgh process the trauma.
“A lot of organizations were reaching out, and we had XOXO ready,” says Anne Fullenkamp, director of design at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
XOXO: A Project about Love & Forgiveness is a mobile museum experience that guides participants of all ages through simple activities based on examining and expressing emotions. Some of the activities are collaborative, involving deep listening and communication with a partner. Others are solitary, like an area where attendees can write down their fears on colorful paper which they then shred and turn into art.
“We always look back to Fred Rogers,” says Fullenkamp. “If you talk about something, it makes it less scary. It might help the problem and alleviate some of these issues.”
Designed in 2014 as a traveling exhibit, the original 2000-square-foot XOXO installation toured dozens of cities across the country before finding a permanent home at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville in 2016.
With that underlying structure already in place, Fullenkamp and her team of education experts set about adapting the activities and interventions from the original exhibit into a version that was mobile and easier to share with partners in the region.
There is now an XOXO exhibit at the Children’s Museum, a smaller version at Children’s Hospital, a pop-up exhibit at a storefront space at 819 Penn Avenue in the Cultural District (open weekends through Dec. 31) and a mobile version.
Since early November, the museum’s staff have been hosting these mobile XOXO events at places like the Oakmont Library, South Park Library, Assemble in Garfield and many other locations. Interested in hosting your own XOXO event? The museum can provide pop-up versions of the exhibit for venues and private events upon request until the end of the year.