Julee Baber Brooks ’00 named director of LA children’s museum
October 6, 2011 By Elizabeth Trollinger
Zimmer Children's Museum in Los Angeles. "Centre's focus on
creating well-rounded individuals really gave me the foundation
for the work that I do,” she says.
“I was really drawn to the Zimmer's mission that teaches
children about community responsibility and global citizenship,”
Brooks says. Above, children play with costumes.
Julee Baber Brooks ’00 knows how to make learning fun — and now she’s using that important skill at Los Angeles’ only children’s museum.
Brooks was recently named museum director of the Zimmer Children’s Museum, an institution committed to using interactive learning to help children and families explore some big ideas. The museum uses “the power of play” to teach values like respect for others, generosity and creativity.
“I was really drawn to the Zimmer's mission that teaches children about community responsibility and global citizenship,” Brooks says. “This focus is unique for a children's museum, but is especially perfect for the only children's museum in Los Angeles.”
Brooks, who majored in dramatic arts at Centre and previously worked at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, became interested in children’s museums over time.
“My career began in children's theatre, but I came to realize that it was play-based learning and its cognitive, social and emotional benefits that really drove my work,” she says. “Kids need to play to grow! So transitioning to children's museums was a natural fit for my training and background.”
As museum director, Brooks does everything from exhibit development to fundraising to overseeing the weekly classes the museum offers for children ages one to eight. Watching the Zimmer flourish has been meaningful for Brooks.
“We are at a dynamic stage in the life of the organization. Being part of significant growth of cultural institutions is what excites me most professionally, and our reach is expanding every day,” she says.
Brooks acknowledges that her experiences at Centre helped get her where she is today.
“[Dramatic arts professor] Tony Haigh is specifically responsible for my even knowing what an arts administrator is,” she says. “More importantly, though, Centre's focus on creating well-rounded individuals really gave me the foundation for the work that I do.”
Brooks has found that both Centre and the Zimmer Children’s Museum value learning in unique ways.
“I had many inspiring academic experiences, but special opportunities that Centre offers, like studying abroad — I spent a beautiful term in Strasbourg — and independent student research such as a John C. Young fellowship gave me dynamic ownership of learning experiences,” Brooks says. “Providing that kind of learning-by-doing and empowering learners — although much younger thinkers — is fundamental to my work.”
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and has named Centre No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South for two years in a row. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, click here.