As the COVID-19 coronavirus disease continues to impact communities around the world, ASTC is working with our members and partners to respond to and recover from this pandemic. We are heartened by the way you have continued to serve your missions and communities during this challenging time and the ways that you have generously shared resources, suggestions, and ideas with each other.

BREAKING: With the signing of H.R. 133 on December 27, see these blog posts for information about new provisions in the Paycheck Protection Program and a new grant program for shuttered venue operators—including museums:

ASTC launched the Weekly Attendance and Operations Survey, an ongoing survey project containing a data-benchmarking tool for members to collect and report on their visitor attendance and operational status. This survey has been providing us with field-wide information on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on science centers and museums.

The first aggregate report provides a preliminary look at the data collected thus far. As weekly data is being continuously collected, ASTC will release additional summaries and reports as they become available.

If you are an ASTC science center or museum member interested in participating, please contact surveys@astc.org.

Supporting Communities

ASTC members have continued to serve their communities and their mission during the pandemic, including by engaging audiences virtually, offering their facilities and expertise, and much more.

ASTC member institutions are serving their communities in a variety of ways including by providing childcare to the families of essential workers and helping address food insecurity.

Even while closed to the public ASTC member institutions are offering their facilities in a variety of ways including to host blood drives and food distribution centers, house schools and state legislatures, show movies in their outdoor spaces, provide internet hotspots, and contribute computing resources to the fight against COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more available, several ASTC members are serving as vaccination locations including the International Centre for Life (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK), American Museum of Natural History (New York, New York), and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinville, Oregon).

ASTC members are among the many cultural institutions that have donated stocks of personal protective equipment (PPE) and used 3D printers to make supplies needed by local healthcare and other essential workers.

Engaging Communities in STEM

The science engagement community is making available to colleagues and the public a large collection of online programming, videos, and stay-at-home activities related to STEM in general and specific to COVID-19.

Advocating for Science Centers and Museums in COVID-19 Relief Efforts

ASTC has joined with partners to advocate for inclusion of museums and other centers for science engagement in efforts to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We encourage all members of our field and the communities they serve to reach out to your elected officials—at every level of government—to make sure they understand the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and state of emergency is having on your institution and your staff. The ASTC Advocacy team has developed a toolkit to help you communicate your institution’s needs to policymakers.

Guidance on Business and Operations

Sustaining business and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic is incredibly challenging and will extend for months and years beyond the public health emergency. This section of our website includes resources on federal grants and contracts, recovery resources—such as small business loans, fundraising and philanthropy—and employment resources:

Connecting Members and Serving the ASTC Community

ASTC has been in frequent touch with its member science and technology centers and museums to convene conversations about their preparation and experiences. This includes initiating discussions on our online forum and convening virtual community discussions among leaders of our member institutions. We are also working closely with other global science engagement networks and our sister museum associations to connect members with their peers around the world.

If there are additional ways that ASTC can support you, including by providing more opportunities for you to connect with one another and share strategies, please do not hesitate to email us directly at info@astc.org. We also encourage you to share your institution’s experiences and the steps you are taking to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Preparations and Response at ASTC

ASTC’s Board of Directors has dedicated significant attention to COVID-19 since the spring, including chartering the Task Force on COVID-19 Response and Recovery, revising ASTC’s budget, plans for the ASTC Annual Conference, and more.

In addition, ASTC has taken a number of actions, including steps to promote the health of our staff, ensure continuity of business operations, and reduce expenses. As needed, ASTC staff have been teleworking in response to guidance from public-health officials related to physical distancing. 

We remain in close touch with our partner associations, networks, and societies, including the international science center networks, our partners in North America, and the broader scientific, science-engagement, and museum communities.

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