About Us

We Believe in the Power of Play

Martha Blackwelder is a creative entrepreneur based in New York City. A passionate communicator and bridge builder, she believes that staying curious and having fun increases our vitality and aliveness. Throughout her career as an Asian art historian, first a museum curator, then director and later a certified art appraiser, she led groups and taught classes, always looking for new ways to engage and inspire audiences.

In 2020 she founded Unexpected Adventures NYC, an educational company offering creative team building events in NYC. Unexpected Adventures NYC offers outdoor experiences such as the popular Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Central Park that are great for companies and groups looking for an outdoor educational bonding experience. Often described as part Improv, part NYC tourism and part team building, it’s a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty and history of Central Park while building and strengthening human connections.

Blackwelder is an adjunct professor at NYU and has been featured in episodes of the PBS series Antiques Road Show. She is former Executive Director of the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston and former Coates-Cowden-Brown Curator of Asian Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, where she wrote At the Edge of the Sky: Asian Art in the San Antonio Museum of Art with co-author John Vollmer.

martha interpreting an east asian art print

What makes these outdoor adventures different is Martha’s passion for having fun which began as a reaction to her own workaholic mindset. During Covid, she saw that her hard-driving attitudes toward work, which had helped her succeed in her professional career (raising millions of dollars and overseeing two building projects), were not healthy.

She sought balance by consciously choosing to add more play into her life (which was not always easy). Over time she realized that play is a wonderful antidote to our “very serious”, “work more”, “not enough” culture. Today Blackwelder is passionate about inspiring others to notice these mindsets and reclaim their own vitality and excitement for life. She’s currently building an online community for people interested in finding more moments of joy, aliveness and awe in their lives.

More From Martha

The traditional “Lunch and Learn” has gone stale— explore new ways (backed by neuroscience!) to nurture and develop your team.

Read this free resource to explore a new approach to a well-intentioned, but ineffective practice.


“Finding More Awe: Awe Moments and Why You Need Them” hosted by PSS.

Join Martha for an exploration of the burgeoning awe moments and awe walks movement, and the fascinating research behind it.


Learn more about Martha’s journey from non-profit CEO to “purveyor of play” as she shares her story and insight with PSS.


Meet the Author: Refusing to be Invisible for Women 50+: Life Planning Empowerment Strategies for Women 50+ with Paula Marie Usrey and Martha Blackwelder

Program hosted by Coming of Age a division of PSS/ Presbyterian Senior Services, NYC held on March 7, 2023