(June 14, 1899-Jan. 11, 1966). The daughter of Charles C. and Hattie Mabrey Blaisdell, Grace Blaisdell Golden was born in Indianapolis. She married Byron Maxwell Golden in 1922. The couple had one daughter. Golden gained experience in writing, fundraising, public relations, and education through nonprofit and freelance work locally.

Grace Blaisdell Golden (right) examines a Navajo sand painting with future Children's Museum director Mildred Compton, ca. 1965
Credit: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

In 1928 The Children’s Museum (TCM) hired her as executive secretary in charge of fundraising and public relations. She also developed new exhibit techniques for children and started a museum lending program with local schools. She supervised the New Deal Work Projects Administration (WPA) workers assigned to TCM and in 1938 was appointed field supervisor of the WPA Statewide Museum Program.

Once at TCM, Golden developed expertise in folklore and antiques. She wrote articles for national magazines and published a children’s book, Pueblo People (1935). In the late 1930s, she began writing “Know Your Heirlooms,” an Indianapolis Star column, and taught courses on antiques at Butler University.  In 1938, Golden also received a Carnegie Institute grant to travel to Eastern Europe to study costumes, folklore, and customs.

In 1942, Golden became the second director of TCM. She believed that collections should be used for museum education and promotion instead of being hidden away. An energetic and dynamic leader, she increased TCM’s collections, attendance, facilities, and financial stability during her 22 years as director.

In 1947, Golden was one of six Americans chosen to work with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on museum problems. In 1951, she was the first woman to serve as president of the Midwestern Museum Conference and later was the first woman to serve as an officer of the American Association of Museums. Through her leadership in these positions and for the International Council of Museums, she brought national and international exposure to the Children’s Museum. 

Golden also published two more children’s books, Made In Iceland (1958) and Seven Dancing Dolls (1961). She retired as director of TCM in 1964. Upon her death, TCM created the Grace Golden Memorial Scholarship which, until the early 1980s, provided grants to students interested in the museum field.

Revised February 2021

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