Children's Museum Houston Awarded $2.5 Million by Lilly Endowment

January 24, 2023
Seasons of Sharing exhibit at Children's Museum Houston highlights holidays celebrated around the world in the most diverse "neighborhood" in the city.

Grant to support Museum’s continued advocacy for cultural and religious diversity through new exhibit and programming


HOUSTON (Jan. 24, 2023) – Children’s Museum Houston received a grant of $2.5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative. The grant will support Faithful Friends, a major new exhibit complemented with related programs that will increase the ability of families to respectfully consider and discuss differences in the cultural traditions of the six primary faith practices in Greater Houston.  The announcement comes as the United Nations celebrates the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week, Feb. 1 to 7, which seeks harmony between citizens of the world, regardless of their faith.


Children’s Museum Houston is one of 16 organizations from across the United States receiving grants through the latest round of the initiative. The group includes fine arts museums, historical societies,  history museums, libraries, historic sites, museums dedicated to serving children and families, and museums dedicated to geographic locations and cultures.


The Faithful Friends exhibit will premiere in mid-2024 with the goal of helping families embrace factors that connect rather than divide us, engendering interactions that begin with understanding and respect for the good found within all of us.

More than 225 faith leaders, advisors, and visiting families were involved in the Museum’s planning process, including representatives of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, The Boniuk Institute at Rice University, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York, and the six faith traditions to be featured.  A team of 25 youth advisors was an essential addition, providing key insights to their desires and perspectives regarding personal identities, differences, and faith.  Almost all advisors will remain, informing the development of:

  • The Faithful Friends exhibit, which will remain in the Museum’s cultural gallery for two years and then join a rotation of cultural exhibits.
  • A year-round series of workshops, performances, and events coordinated by an interfaith educator.
  • Redevelopment of the Museum’s Seasons of Sharing exhibit, which is presented annually in November and December to highlight seven religious celebrations and observances from around the world.
  • A Faces of Houston resource gallery capturing ideas and feedback from visitors, celebrating the diversity of Houstonians. The gallery will host additional programming and short-term presentations tied to specific observances.
  • New Family Literacy Involvement Program (FLIP) Kits will feature books and activities to help families explore religion. These 120 kits will be circulated by Houston Public Library.

Faithful Friends will join a rotation of five cultural exhibits presented at Children’s Museum Houston and our sister location, Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.

“We are profoundly aware of the importance of this work, knowing that as we increasingly build deeper understandings and respect for the good found within each of us, we find ways to connect rather than to divide from one another,” said Children’s Museum Houston’s Executive Director Tammie Kahn.

This is the second round of grants Lilly Endowment has made to organizations to develop exhibitions and education programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world.  The Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative began in 2019 with an initial group of 18 grants. Through both rounds of grants Lilly Endowment has given more than $86 million in grants.


“Museums and cultural institutions are trusted organizations and play an important role in teaching the American public about the world around them,” said Lilly Endowment’s Vice President for Religion Christopher Coble.  “These organizations will use the grants to help visitors understand and appreciate the significant impact religion has had and continues to have on society in the United States and around the globe.  Our hope is that these efforts will promote greater knowledge about and respect for people of diverse religious traditions.”  


Winner of Good Housekeeping’s “2023 Best Family Travel Award,” Children’s Museum Houston shares a vision of a future where all children, families and communities in Greater Houston can reach their fullest potential. It is dedicated to transforming communities through innovative, child-centered learning that improves the trajectories of all children.   Founded in 1980 and housed in a whimsical building designed by internationally acclaimed architect Robert Venturi, Children’s Museum Houston offers a multitude of innovative exhibits and bilingual learning programs for kids ages birth to 12 years. The Museum serves more than 1 million people annually and operates as a 501(c)(3)under the direction of a Board of Directors. For more information and Play Safe guidelines, please visit or call (713) 522-1138.Children’s Museum Houston is A Playground for Your Mind™ Can your mind come out to play?™



Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A primary aim of its grantmaking in religion is to deepen the religious lives of Christians, principally by supporting efforts that enhance congregational vitality and strengthen the leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment values the broad diversity of Christian traditions and endeavors to support them in a wide variety of contexts. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion by encouraging fair, accurate and balanced portrayals of the positive and negative effects of religion on the world and lifting up the contributions that people of all faiths make to our greater civic well-being.