2013 Leading Edge Award Recipients

Two ASTC-member science museums and one science center professional received Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards on October 19 at the 2013 ASTC Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Leading Edge Award for Business Practice

Awarded to the Sciencecenter, Ithaca, New York, for MuseumTools.org: A High-Impact HR Toolkit for Science Museums. Nearly four dozen human resource management tools comprise the toolkit, and its documents, templates, and survey instruments are accessible 24-7, free to download, and easy to customize. The tools cover six major areas, with half dedicated to the core process of hiring and on-boarding new staff. The final three sections cover job performance and work environment assessment, planning, and evaluation, including the center’s leadership succession plan, and best practices to follow in collaborative projects. The jury praised not only the quality and quantity of human resource documents and staff feedback instruments, but also Sciencecenter’s willingness to share these resources with science centers worldwide.

Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience

Awarded to Science Alive! The New Zealand Science Centre, Christchurch, for A Science Centre without Walls. In 2010 and 2011 a series of devastating earthquakes destroyed more than 10,000 buildings in Christchurch, including the former train station that housed Science Alive. Later quakes damaged the building beyond repair, and in 2012 the science centre was razed. Within a few weeks of the most significant earthquake, Science Alive! staffers were running science activity booths at local farmers’ markets, and converting existing classes into portable formats and creating new workshops, then taking these programs on the road to schools, preschools, libraries, and youth justice centers. The most popular event, the Under 5 Fest, provided exhibits and activities for preschoolers—including those too young to visit the original science centre—over a 10-day period. The jury found the focus on fostering a love of science in a new generation to be especially commendable.

Leading Edge Award for Experienced Leadership in the Field

Awarded to Asger Høeg, executive director, Experimentarium in Hellerup, Denmark. During the last three years, Høeg raised an impressive US $105 million from Danish foundations for the Experimentarium’s renewal and expansion. Some of the funds were used to purchase the old bottling plant that the center had been renting since opening in 1991. The remaining amount will finance not only two new floors with more exhibition space, but also a multipurpose hall with seating for 400, a larger café and museum store, a multimedia workshop, and a large outdoor exhibition area and botanic garden on the roof. The 140,000-square-foot project will be managed by Høeg, who postponed his retirement until the expansion is complete. The jury honored Høeg for his vision and commitment.