Five ASTC members will receive more than $2.1 million from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, among the 17 organizations receiving fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Leadership Grants for Museums.
In total, 15 projects were selected from 74 applications to share almost $6.4 million in Federal grants, which are supplemented by more than $4.5 million in matching funds. In a release announcing the awards, IMLS Director Crosby Kemper said “Our current round of grants for the museum world reflects the important work of our nation’s cultural institutions during the pandemic and the deep thinking about the future of our culture in a post-pandemic world.”
The FY 2022 National Leadership Grants for Museums Notice of Funding Opportunity will be posted later this month, with an anticipated application deadline of November 15, 2021. As a reminder, IMLS investment in funding programs for museums is dependent on bipartisan Congressional support each year. Please be ready to respond to ASTC advocacy alerts as contacting your elected officials in Washington, D.C., helps increase the amount of available funds to support the meaningful work ASTC members do in their communities.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
San Jose, California
The Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, in partnership with the Association of Children’s Museums, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, and Garibay Group, will develop and disseminate a suite of resources that support institution-wide efforts by museums to incorporate diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) practices into their operations in effective, manageable, and actionable ways. Project activities include the development of DEAI tools such as infographics, diagnostic assessments, reflection and strategy guides, and webinars. Resources will be available free of charge and disseminated through partnerships with national and regional museum associations. By developing new DEAI resources that support culturally competent museum operations, the project will empower museums to shift their internal practices to be more inclusive and equitable.
Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, in partnership with six science centers and museums, will promote and invest in science education in rural communities with limited museum access. This coalition will work with two cohorts of rural school communities (12 total) and focus on engaging, learning from, and supporting rural school districts, teachers, families, and communities through relationship building, asset mapping, and the collaborative integration and implementation of museum resources. Additional activities include the production of publications, virtual presentations, and a virtual tool kit. The project will illustrate the ways in which museums can collaborate to support STEM and literacy at the K-2 level, enhance teacher self-efficacy, attitudes and beliefs, and engage family and community, strengthening services for Americans who live in the most rural areas.
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
The Florida Museum of Natural History will collaborate with six zoos, natural history museums, and botanical gardens to develop a professional development program that will increase museum staff’s capacity to communicate effectively to the public about conservation and environmental issues. At least 21 conservation, marketing, and education staff members will participate in quarterly workshops designed to promote sustained participant interactions, teamwork, and peer-to-peer learning. The collaborative will work with a communications and marketing agency to develop a framework that can be adopted and implemented as a community-based conservation communications campaign. The project activities will improve museum professionals’ ability to develop and tell more engaging stories about the value of biodiversity and the important role of community-based conservation efforts.
Museum of Science, Boston
The Museum of Science, Boston will create a customizable digital exhibit platform that can flexibly and inclusively support visitors’ engagement with any topic. Project activities include developing and testing a flexible exhibit infrastructure that prioritizes universal design principles, which can be installed as a standalone exhibit in a museum. The digital platform will be available free of charge, supporting the creation of digital exhibits to respond to of-the-moment topics. More than 20 museum, science center, and zoo professionals from across the United States will act as collaborative partners. The project will benefit the museum field and broader society by expanding the tools available to museums for creating broadly accessible exhibits that support visitor engagement with any topic.
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago will conduct a research study that measures a sense of belonging for museum guests, helping museums identify and address social exclusion issues. Project activities include developing and testing a survey instrument with museum visitors along with a comparison group of non-museum goers, culminating in the production of the final instrument, a user’s guide, and a template to analyze findings. The project will involve nine museums of various types, sizes, audience demographics, and geographic locations collaborating to collect and analyze data and then share the project results with the broader museum community. Project activities will result in an increase in museum staff’s awareness of their audience’s sense of inclusion, leading to museums that are more responsive and relevant to their communities.
- “IMLS Invests $6.3 Million in Museum National Leadership Projects,” August 9, 2021.