MoPA has been called “One of the worlds best Children’s Museums” by The Sydney Morning Herald. It was opened in 2020, husband and wife team Billie Georgieff and Thomas Mahon who describe it as ‘the intersection between NGV Kids and the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery”. The inspiration came from their travels in the US where there was a much higher density of children’s museums. When they returned home their kids asked if they could go to a kids museum near to them and one did not exist without having to travel into Melbourne CBD so they decided to create MoPA. They identified Geelong as a location with a large local population of families with good transport links to the West of Melbourne which has a large and growing population (getting to Geelong is as easy for this community to reach as travelling into central Melbourne).
They sold their home and took a lease on Geelong’s historic 160-year-old “Wintergarden” which has housed everything from Church Congregations to The Army and transformed it into an interactive creative play and learning experience.
MoPA is founded on the belief that more play and creativity will paint a brighter future. Exhibits and activities are crafted to provide opportunities for play-based learning and creative exploration and they have developed a partnership with Deakin University. They use timed tickets which also helps drive demand (tickets are capped at 100 per day for the Geelong site which means the museum can be booked out days in advance). Just over a year after a Covid interrupted opening period, they were reporting over 100,000 visitors to the Geelong site. Tickets costs $14 for children aged one and over and adults $10 (a family pass for 4 people is $44). You can also join as a member for unlimited play ($189 for a child and $129 for an adult) and over 3,800 have taken up this offer (2500+ in Geelong and 1300+ in their new Melbourne site according to MoPA’s website).
MoPA is clearly built for the whole family (not just the kids). It’s also about adults with good coffee and a place to chat with friends in a sealed safe environment only open to ticketed customers. The café is the central feature so parents can pretty much see anywhere in the building. They also offer experiences for adults outside of the main opening hours. MoPA After Dark is a series of adults-only seminars, classes, functions and events; curated to help parents and features talks by world-leading academics and practitioners from a number of fields relating to Early Learning.
They have created a savvy concept and a brand that could transfer to multiple facilities and the success of the Geelong site has seen them open their second venue. MoPA’s latest play-based learning facility in Sandringham is the largest Children’s Museum in Melbourne and one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere (it has opened in a former indoor sports facility and at 2500 sqm it is three times the size of the original site). Once again it is not in the main CBD of Melbourne with a goal to reach an underserved population on the other side of the city (who are expected to go into Melbourne CBD currently for an equivalent experience).
MoPA was a recipient of a $277,000 grant as part of the Federal Government Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) program which was a response to the global pandemic. A number of creative entrepreneurs were able to use these grants to support the growth of new creative enterprises and perhaps demonstrates the need for this sort of funding and investment.
MoPA also has a smart social presence which has seen them amass nearly 25,000+ Followers on Instagram already which helps drive visitation.
This case study is a great example as to why you need to have a laser focus on audiences to be successful.