The tradition of trading physical Valentines cards in school is on hold this year, so the Utica Children’s Museum teamed up with the Children’s Museum of Phoenix in Arizona for a unique cross country Virtual Valentine’s Exchange.


The call for entries was put out from both Museums earlier in the month and an array of virtual Valentines came in via UCM’s Facebook page. Artwork was collected and exchanged and then each Museum posted the other city’s creations on Facebook on Valentine’s Day.


Kids got a chance to make a custom piece of art and include a personal message, but also reflected on geography with the project as well as the different climates and weather patterns the two cities are experiencing right now. In a post from the museum in Phoenix, they shared that the forecast predicted it to be only 25 degrees in Utica for Valentine’s Day while in Phoenix they would be enjoying sunny, 70 degree weather. They prompted their audience to send some warmth to Upstate NY by making Valentines.


Many Valentines submitted were thoughtful and empathetic, expressing good wishes and safety to each other and included encouraging words like “we’ll get through this”.


Utica Children’s Museum Director Donna Migliaccio shares, “We have been working hard to create fun, unique experiences while our museum is closed and as we make our way through the pandemic. Valentine’s Day gave us the perfect chance to spread some love by partnering with another children’s museum and to also give kids a memorable opportunity to exchange Valentines in a non-traditional way.”


“We were thrilled to be contacted by Utica Children’s Museum to be a part of this exchange! The pure energy from a handmade valentine is the perfect way to add a little light and spread a little love, and sharing that energy from coast to coast is exactly what we need right now. It’s been an absolute treat working with Utica Children’s Museum and seeing just how much love their community has to share,” said Melissa Hauer, Membership Coordinator for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.


A special thank you goes out to the Westmoreland Central School District and Z13 Coordinator Lisa Davis for embracing this project.


“Westmoreland’s ZI3 (Zone for Imagination, Innovation, and Inspiration) was thrilled to partner with the Utica Children’s Museum and Children’s Museum in Phoenix to send friendship and kindness across the country. We have all experienced hardships and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of this we have been focusing on empathy and compassion toward others in our school. This was a great way to expand our initiative to reach others beyond our school and community. Students were able decorate cards, draw pictures, write letters, and send encouraging thoughts and good wishes to our friends in Arizona. Thank you to the Utica Children’s Museum for allowing us to be part of this experience.”

About Utica Children’s Museum

The Utica Children’s Museum will be relocating to the Parkway District of Utica on the corner of Holland Avenue and Memorial Parkway and will be creating an entirely new experience for families in the Mohawk Valley. The new museum is part of a larger project of ICAN – the development of a first-of-its-kind Family Resource Center that will house ICAN family-based programs, space open to the community AND the Museum. Leadership and staff from ICAN and the Children’s Museum are in the midst of readying the

building and the planning of exhibit experiences and space with their partners. With over 50 years of history, the Utica Children’s Museum is one of the oldest children’s museums in the country.

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