IMLS awards ASTC members more than $7 million in Museums for America program

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced the recipients of nearly $30 million in its largest competitive grants program, Museums for America, and its two special initiatives, Museums Empowered and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums. A total of 208 projects were selected from 758 applications requesting almost $100 million; the Federal funds will be supplemented by more than $35 million in matching funds from non-Federal sources.

Among this list of grantees are 42 ASTC-member institutions who have received 45 awards for a total of more than $7.3 million.

  • Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, serving as community anchors and essential partners in addressing community needs, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to its care.
  • Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity-building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum; recipients will focus on one of four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, or organizational management. 
  • Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program, was designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans; recipients will focus on learning experiences, community partnerships, collections stewardship, or expanding access to collections and resources. 

The fiscal year 2022 Notices of Funding Opportunity for these three programs will be posted later in August 2021, with an anticipated application deadline of November 15, 2021. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

Museums for America

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia will digitize and preserve years of field recordings of grasshopper and cricket songs (Orthoptera), making them available for scientists, students, and interested visitors. These reel-to-reel and audiocassette field recordings feature insects in their natural habitats from the 1960s to the 1990s, including in threatened and disappearing habitats in the Hawaiian Islands, the American west and Africa. The project supports the hiring of a Curatorial Assistant as well as and 5 full-time co-op positions for Drexel University undergraduate students as part of the collaboration with the Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts and Design sound lab to digitize the analog tapes. The species data will then be added to an open-source content management system to be used to inform future educational initiatives focusing on biodiversity, evolution, climate change, and the importance of non-traditional collections.

American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York

The American Museum of Natural History plans to digitize and improve access to its complete accessions archive. The archive is made up of 58,945 records of index cards, ledgers, and signed original documents about when, how, and by whom artifacts and specimens were donated or acquired. Current accession records remain largely only on paper, and those that have been digitized have not been transcribed and are not easily searchable. The museum will hire archivist staff to complete the scanning and transcription of these records, which will make the archive more accessible to museum curators and collections staff, as well as to external researchers to further their research.

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Anchorage, Alaska

The Anchorage Museum seeks to decolonize its collection through the dissemination of images and materials related to the Chickaloon Native Village. The project will expand access to collections with digital surrogates and newly created metadata made available online through both the village’s and the museum’s online image databases. The museum will hire an archivist, a collections technician and involve village elders to work on the project. Although this is the first project of this kind undertaken by the museum, it will serve as a model for future relationships with other Alaska Native villages.

Bishop Museum
Honolulu, Hawaii

The Bishop Museum will improve the accessibility of its herbarium collection by digitizing, transcribing, and geo-referencing its records. The museum has over 250,000 flora specimens collected over 240 years, including the most extensive collection of Hawaiian plant fossils on record. The project will better support the conservation community and serve the public by mobilizing the museum’s previously unavailable specimen-based information. The museum will make the images and data available to help inform conservation workers on critical decisions, allow them to predict invasive species’ spread, and identify areas where threatened and endangered species can be reintroduced with a high likelihood of success.

Bishop Museum
Honolulu, Hawaii

The Bishop Museum in Honolulu will digitize the Francis G. Howarth and Frederick D. Stone Hawaiian Cave Arthropod Collections, which includes nearly 40,000 specimens and associated records. Project activities include hiring a Digitization Technician and student interns to work with the Entomology Collections Manager, purchasing digitization equipment, purchasing new jars and vials to rehouse the specimens, and collaborating with Howarth and other cave biologists to identify specimens. The museum will enter the specimen data and field notebooks into a biological collection management system. The museum will develop a series of Collection Standard Operating Procedures to include protocols for digitizing field notebooks, imaging and data capture, and collection plans. A checklist of species will be generated from the collection database and the 40,000 digitized specimens will be properly housed, labeled, and stored in the main collection area.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Brooklyn, New York

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum will implement “We Are #BrooklynKids,” a two-year project to identify and foster creative talent in the local community and direct resources to culturally specific arts groups and artists that reflect the neighborhoods the museum serves. In partnership with three community-based organizations (Friends of Marcy Houses, United for Brownsville, and Cool Culture), the museum will engage with approximately 100 Central Brooklyn families (including approximately 400 children) to participate in exhibit and program planning. In partnership with guest curators based in Central Brooklyn, the museum also will present six one-day community festivals that will include performances and other activities. The project will provide an opportunity for participating families to bring their visions for museum programming to life through meaningful, memorable experiences.

The Children’s Museum
West Hartford, Connecticut

The Children’s Museum will collaborate with six Hartford Public Library branches, three Hartford Family Centers, and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to provide  hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics  (STEAM) – based programs to over 1,000  local 3 to 14-year old children and their care givers. Program design and development will include planning for  field trips to the museum.  All participants will be given age-specific, supplemental STEAM materials to continue their learning activities at home, and families can attend more than one week of library programs, or more than three Saturdays of family center programs.  The goal will be to help urban Hartford youths find new pathways toward responsible citizenry and fiscal stability.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will implement “SLAM Dunk,” a multidisciplinary initiative centered around Dunkleosteus terrelli, the largest predator and one of the fiercest creatures alive in the Devonian “Age of Fishes,” and for which the museum hold the best-preserved fossils. Each East Cleveland City Schools Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade class will visit the museum for extended programming twice each school year. Museum educators will visit classrooms three times each school year. Museum staff will work with East Cleveland teachers on professional development offerings to increase teachers’ comfort level working with science content. Each school will receive an Educator Resource Center membership along with books and STEM materials. The museum will organize a family day at the museum each spring and provide scholarships for rising 3rd grade students to attend the museum’s week-long summer camps.

Computer History Museum
Mountain View, California

The Computer History Museum will create four “Spotlight Collections,” each containing 30 artifacts focusing on a specific theme relevant to the museum’s ongoing programming, to improve online collection access and expand the museum’s global reach. The 30 artifacts in each Spotlight Collection will be processed with machine-learning software, enhancing searchability and discoverability within each Spotlight Collection; users will also be able to search between Spotlight Collections to find unexpected connections and links. The Spotlight Collections will be available through links placed on the museum’s broader public collections search webpage. These collections will establish a go-to software platform for streamlined development of future collections, as well as inform an approach and process for expanding the use of machine learning across the museum’s online collection access platform.

Creative Discovery Museum
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Creative Discovery Museum will create an indoor/outdoor, natural science gallery designed for children ages 2 to 12. Named “Unearthed,” the gallery will include exhibits on fossil layers, dinosaurs and paleontology, volcanos and volcanology, erosion and weathering, entomology, and insects. It will offer hands-on, exploratory experiences in natural science for children and their families. The new science gallery will align with state educational standards, provide more interactive learning experiences, and introduce children to real elements including dirt, water, and sand in an outdoor exhibit that reinforces the concepts presented inside the museum.

Discovery Museum
Acton, Massachusetts

Discovery Museum will partner with Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI)-Concord and Concord Prison Outreach to create playful learning experiences for young, incarcerated fathers (ages 18–24) to share with their children. The museum will develop a set of engagement kits that will include activities, materials, and resources designed to build fathers’ knowledge of child development and increase their comfort with engaging in positive experiences with their children. The project will serve 30 incarcerated fathers living in a newly opened unit at MCI-Concord that provides an array of supportive programs responsive to the unique developmental needs of men in that age range.

The DoSeum
San Antonio, Texas

The DoSeum will re-imagine its exhibition, “Dream Tomorrow Today,” focusing on underserved students in San Antonio. The community-driven exhibition will provide a space for children ages 4 to 11 to develop key learning and STEM leadership skills to approach their desired futures. In developing the exhibit content, the museum will partner with academic futurists, local organizations with a focus on underserved students, STEM-focused organizations, and a community network of families connected to those organizations. Community conversations will be convened for children and families throughout the exhibition development process to elicit feedback from key stakeholders.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Burlington, Vermont

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain will increase its capacity to serve rural schools through programming opportunities under its STEM in Motion 2.0 program. In partnership with rural schools, they will conduct two year-long teacher institutes blending in-person and virtual professional development. They plan to develop a total of 270 in-person and virtual classroom STEM programs and produce 18 classroom curriculum kits and standard-activity aligned guides. As a result of STEM in Motion 2.0’s activities, the museum anticipate that 54 teachers will have additional capacity to deliver high-quality STEM learning experiences to K–5th grade students in underserved, rural communities.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerque will conduct “Roots: supporting Black scholars in STEAM,” a project to increase Explora’s relationships with and relevance to Albuquerque’s Black communities and increase opportunities for Black students in Albuquerque to pursue STEAM. The project is designed to foster a holistic, place-based approach to K–16 STEAM learning that incorporates a growth mindset and highlights the contributions of community members, particularly Black STEAM professionals. The museum will collaborate on project activities with the Mexico Black Leadership Council, the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership/Casa Feliz, the Community School at Emerson Elementary, and Sandia National Laboratories’ Black Leadership Committee.

Field Museum
Chicago, Illinois

The Field Museum of Natural History will present “Changing Face of Science,” an exhibition series targeting pre-teens and teenagers and featuring Field Museum scientists and science educators who are women or people of color. Over three years, the museum will mount six exhibitions that highlight the experiences and work of museum scientists from diverse backgrounds in a range of disciplines. Programming will include on-site field trips and virtual events during which students and educators will interact with featured researchers. By presenting the stories of individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in scientific fields, the museum will provide role models who will show that science is accessible and inspire a diverse group of future scientists.

Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Grand Rapids Public Museum will improve the housing, accessibility, and environmental conditions for 47,500 specimens in its natural history collection by installing new storage units that meet the museum industry’s highest standards. The natural history collection is composed of invertebrates with a rigid skeleton, botanical specimens, rocks and minerals, birds (mounts, skins, & eggs), fossils (vertebrate & invertebrate), mammals (mounts, skins, & skeletons), and reptiles (mounts & skeletons). Most of the natural history collection is currently stored on open, steel shelving and in old cabinets with wood drawers. This project will allow 95% of the museum’s natural history collection to be stored in fully enclosed cabinets, protecting specimens from light, dust, moisture, and pests. When complete, the project will provide 34% more storage space and ensure the long-term preservation of the unique collection.

Huntington Museum of Art
Huntington, West Virginia

Huntington Museum of Art will expand and enhance its current nature trail system, providing additional opportunities for patrons to interact with and learn about nature. The museum plans to expand the Teubert Sensory Trail, which is specifically designed to meet the needs of visually impaired individuals and people who use wheelchairs, doubling its length. At the same time, they will install educational signage and other conveniences to enhance the sensory and hiking trails. The enhanced trails will make nature more accessible, inviting, and engaging, particularly for those who face barriers to participation.

Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will create a hands-on, immersive experience about legendary African American cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor. The exhibit will feature a 1900-era locker room, a bicycle shop that demonstrates how bike design impacts performance, and three trophies Taylor won overseas. Visitors will be able to assemble bicycles and participate in an animated race. The museum will collaborate with The Indianapolis Public Library’s Center for Black Literature and Culture, US Bicycling Hall of Fame, Bike Indianapolis, and Central Indiana Bicycling Association. The exhibit will increase awareness of Major Taylor, his achievements, and his connections to Indianapolis and Indiana, and will provide a shared experience focused on race and our ongoing struggle for social justice. Visitors can contemplate and take action around bike equity, access to affordable transportation, and urban design, explore cycling and ride bicycles together.

Long Island Children’s Museum
Garden City, New York

The Long Island Children’s Museum will implement the second phase of development of a new permanent exhibition titled “Saltwater Stories: The Sea & Me.” The exhibition will engage families and school audiences in an exploration of the local maritime traditions that have shaped the historical, cultural, and economic development of Long Island. They will create exhibit floorplans and renderings of exhibit components and identify interactive exhibition elements. The museum will also develop educational programs and resources, along with related content for their website. Finally, they will create a preliminary marketing strategy to promote the new exhibit with target audiences.

Louisiana Art and Science Museum
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) will conduct a three-year program, “Healthy Aging with LASM,” which will serve senior adults in the 11-parish capital region. The museum will implement the program in partnership with the Capital Area Agency on Aging, the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging, the Baton Rouge General Arts in Medicine Program, and Dr. Rebecca Bartlett. Senior adults have faced unprecedented levels of isolation, stress, and health risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum will present virtual and in-person art and science programming designed to combat isolation, foster meaningful connections, and promote healthy aging. Programming will include virtual field trips, distribution of arts and science virtual reality headsets, and a series of hands-on arts workshops.

Louisiana Children’s Museum
New Orleans, Louisiana

The Louisiana Children’s Museum is developing a comprehensive set of resources entitled “Water Dialogues–Living with Water,” designed around its new exhibits and landscape resources, to strengthen the community’s understanding of the challenges associated with water management. They are creating a new field trip series and water-based science curriculum, “Water Pathways” as well as an outreach program, “Steward’s Ship,” to bring the program’s environmental messages to schools and camps. The museum will also conduct a professional development training series on science education for local educators implementing the state’s new science standards, in addition to a series of literacy workshops where children ages four to eight will write “how-to” books and “water journals.” To further spread the associated environmental and sustainability messages, they will organize an annual “Water Fest” program for the community.

McWane Science Center
Birmingham, Alabama

The  McWane Science Center (MWSC) will create a new exhibition experience entitled “Dropping Science: Hip-Hop Interactive” that will capture the elements of the popular music genre using interpretive experiences. Project activities include exhibit content development; development of a formal evaluation plan; exhibit prototyping; remedial evaluation, and a final exhibit design plan. An important project goal is to develop the process for creating lasting, reciprocal relationships with the local African American community and throughout the region, thus creating an exhibit space that connects underrepresented audiences to STEM and establishes MWSC as a true community partner. The outcome of this project will be a new interactive experience that was co-developed with and representative of MWSC’s local community that helps MWSC connect with and engage local visitors in science through a more culturally and personally relevant lens.

Museum of Science and History – Memphis Museums
Memphis, Tennessee

The Museum of Science and History – Pink Palace will create an exhibition focusing on the history of Memphis’ LGBTQ community. The exhibit will run simultaneously with the traveling exhibit “Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement,” which provides national context for the local narrative. Along with local LGBTQ history, the exhibit will highlight contemporary opportunities and challenges that LGBTQ Memphians face. It will address the intersections of the Black Lives Matter and transgender rights movements. Museum curators will work with community stakeholders to determine exhibit content, secure artifact acquisitions/loans, and ensure the exhibit tells as complete and inclusive a story as possible.

Michigan Science Center
Detroit, Michigan

The Michigan Science Center will purchase a portable planetarium that will bring planetarium shows to more than 2,000 children through its Traveling Science Program. The museum plans to take the programs to 10 schools and 8 libraries in Metro Detroit and 6 libraries in northern Michigan. They will deliver the portable planetarium shows in coordination with the museum’s long-standing “Scopes in the City” program, which allows people to use telescopes to see the night sky. The program also will expose students to Michigan’s growing aerospace industry and help increase their interest in earth and space science.

Montshire Museum of Science
Norwich, Vermont

The Montshire Museum of Science in partnership with The Family Place will facilitate the program “Families Learning Together: Strengthening a Local System of Support for STEM Learning” for young parents and their children. Informed by a pilot partnership, the program will provide families with hands-on math and science instruction and informal learning opportunities. Programming for young parents ages 15 to 25 will develop their relevant academic knowledge and core life skills to prepare them for parenthood and the workplace. Participating families will receive free admission to accessible exhibits and programming. 

Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana

Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies will create an exhibit exploring the region’s Native people. “American Indian Voices: Natives of the Northern Plains and Rockies” will examine cultural history, language and storytelling, and contemporary art and voices. Working closely with tribal elders, consultants, and volunteers, the museum is decolonizing its outdated exhibit approach. The new exhibit and programs will embrace Native perspectives and values and explore American Indian life today. The museum also will create a K–12 curriculum in accordance the Montana Office of Public Instruction that will assist teachers in interpreting American Indian culture and prepare students to visit the exhibit.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Raleigh, North Carolina

To inspire more youth to seek careers in science, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is adding a new, permanent paleontology exhibition, “Dueling Dinosaurs,” and a public lab that will allow middle school students to explore a variety of fossils using hands-on tools and techniques. The exhibition, which will include the fossils of a Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops found intertwined and thought to have died in an apparent predator-prey battle, will demonstrate how fossils are key evidence used by scientists to understand life on a changing planet. Students will have the opportunity to participate in interactive exercises that replicate scientific processes and procedures, and as they learn, see possible career paths for themselves as scientists.

San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego, California

The San Diego Natural History Museum will improve collection management and long-term preservation and access to their malacology collection composed of 5 million specimens in over 90,000 specimen lots from the museum’s focal region of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California. Project activities include digitizing the card catalog, analyzing collection metadata, performing collection re-organization and re-housing, and recruiting volunteers to assist in the implementation of the collection curation and re-housing. The museum will hire a Project Coordinator to implement the major project goals as well as oversee project volunteers. The project will result in the first ever specimen-level digital catalog of the collection with increased physical safety and ease of collection management.

Science Museum of Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota will undertake a two-year project that will include the digitization of the Wannagan Creek fossil collection and all specimen data. The collection represents a critical recovery phase for life shortly after the mass extinction that ended the age of the dinosaurs, including plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates. The museum will make a photo of each specimen publicly available and publish digital versions of field notes, accession records, and other publications. The project will provide for broader and easier public engagement both online and in-person. Digitization of this collection will ensure the long-term survival of its content and allow the public to learn from and appreciate its value.

spectrUM Discovery Area, University of Montana
Missoula, Montana

The University of Montana will create “Transforming Spaces” to foster a more inclusive, culturally responsive space for Missoula’s urban Indian population and to better meet the community’s needs. The project will explore cross-cultural, collaborative approaches to STEM and Native Science. In collaboration with Montana’s tribal communities, the museum’s education team and advisory groups will design and implement hands-on activities that engage visitors with Native Science. The project will engage tribal role models and partner with tribal elders to create a library of videos for tribal partners, K–12 schools, and organizations. The project will offer teachers professional development designed to fulfill the statewide mandate of Indian Education for All. The exhibit will connect Native and non-Native museum visitors, close opportunity and achievement gaps, and ensure that all Missoula children feel a sense of belonging in museums, higher education, and STEM.

University of Kansas Natural History Museum
Lawrence, Kansas

The University of Kansas Natural History Museum, in collaboration with the University of California Museum of Paleontology, will develop, test, and deploy an immersive educational game on the topic of evolution and common ancestry. The museum will frame the game with a narrative that involves tracing the origin of a zoonotic disease (infectious disease that is transmitted between species from animals to humans or from humans to animals). Played on the museum floor, the escape room-inspired game will explore innovative formats for museum learning and engagement. It is being designed for families with children ages 7 to 12, and by visiting groups of schoolchildren in grades 3 to 5.

The Wild Center
Tupper Lake, New York

The Wild Center will implement “Natural Connections: Lifelong Learning through Inclusive Digital Engagement,” a program to provide opportunities for experiences in nature that promote nature as a benefit to mental health and social-emotional wellbeing. The museum plans to convene an Advisory Committee comprising representatives of NY State Boards of Cooperative Education, local school districts, the Rochester Museum of Science, and community members to develop content for grades 3-6, based on the current needs of the region’s rural school districts. They also will organize virtual field trips and develop new virtual school programming that integrates citizen science and highlights the museum’s 115-acre campus, exhibits, and native live animal collection.

Museums Empowered: Professional Development for Museum Staff

Carnegie Science Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Carnegie Science Center (CSC), in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments, will develop an institution-wide approach to evaluation. Project activities include defining goals and evaluation areas, developing tools and data collection strategies, and analyzing data to understand how it supports data-driven decision making. The project team then will develop and deliver lesson plans through CSC’s existing professional development platform to train additional cohorts of museum staff. The outcome of project activities will be a museum staff that has been equipped with the tools, training, and supports necessary to create a culture that prioritizes evaluation and data-informed decision making, ultimately enabling CSC to provide more enriching experiences for its audience.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will increase its capacities to prepare for and respond to new and evolving cybersecurity threats, including those related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Project activities will include enhancements to critical information technology (IT) infrastructure, cybersecurity training and coaching for museum staff with a consultant, and implementation of the existing IT Disaster Recovery Plan by introducing physical and cloud-based offsite backup systems. The impact of the project activities will be an improvement to security infrastructure and practices across the museum, enhancing the museum’s ability to serve its public safely and securely through innovative new virtual programs launched at the outset of the pandemic.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver, Colorado

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will partner with a researcher to develop an evaluation tool that measures the meaningfulness of the visitor experience. Project activities focus on developing, testing, and disseminating a tool to understand what makes visitors choose a museum, how that experience is remembered and shared, and how to create experiences to which visitors will want to return. The project will involve working with a researcher and two graduate research assistants from the University of Colorado Boulder, who also will lead in-depth training for the museum’s evaluation staff and workshops for the museum’s staff, leadership, and governing board. Project activities will result in increased evaluation capacity among all museum staff and leadership along with a tool to measure the success of the museum’s implementation of its strategic plan.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Burlington, Vermont

ECHO, the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, will work with a consultant to increase organizational capacity to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) issues across the museum. Project activities include assessing and updating museum policies and protocols, training staff, board, and leadership, and developing strategic actions for departments across the museum, including facilities, guest services, communications, programs, and workplace. The museum will convene a DEIA community advisory panel and a series of community listening sessions to inform their work. The outcome of project activities will be an increase in the museum’s ability to serve its community by increasing the capacity of the staff and governing body to apply a DEIA lens to all aspects of museum operations.

Field Museum
Chicago, Illinois

The Field Museum of Natural History will modify and adapt in-person training courses for staff on the importance of digitization planning, data integrity, preservation, and mobilization to collections data for use in a virtual environment. Information technology staff will work with colleagues from departments throughout the museum to develop data standards that reflect best practices and enable data and metadata to more easily be managed and published. The team also will develop a training module on cultural sensitivity and collections data, as well as the framework for an identification key that various museum staff can modify and use to help audiences identify biological specimens of interest. The overall goal of the project is to create a cohort of Field Museum professionals with new and expanded data management skills and an understanding of the role of collections and their associated data as a shared resource with stewardship across multiple departments.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
New York, New York

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will empower staff to understand, use, and share data produced from 3D scanning of the museum. Project activities will include the acquisition of equipment and software coupled with a professional development program to train staff to update, organize, and manipulate 3D scans as well as establish institutional style guides, standards, and best practices. The project will involve engaging a consultant who will train staff to transform the 3D scan data into useable formats. As result of this project, museum staff will gain knowledge and skills to maximize the use of 3D scans, developing the capacity to combine emerging technologies with curatorial and scholarly interpretation as the basis for programs and exhibitions.

Museum of Science
Boston, Massachusetts

The Museum of Science will implement a professional development initiative that builds staff capacity to set and measure goals that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Project activities will include working with consultants to integrate DEI into the museum’s existing organizational accountability system, designing modules and resources to train the entire staff about DEI concepts, using evaluation findings to refine the training, and integrating the updated training modules into ongoing museum operations. The project activities will result in museum staff who increase their awareness, understanding, interest, and confidence in crafting DEI goals, which ultimately benefits the visitors who interact with all the Museum’s educational opportunities.

Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning, Framingham State University
Framingham, Massachusetts

The Christa McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning at Framingham State University will implement a team mentorship and project-based learning program for local high school students. Program participants are tasked with creating campaigns (exhibits, videos, and presentations) that increase awareness of environmental challenges helping participants to develop knowledge, analytical and communication skills, and ethical viewpoints that guide their actions on local and global environmental issues. Project outcomes include the student-created exhibits, videos, and presentations that increase understanding of the interconnected relationships among community, economy and the environment; appreciation of the impacts of personal actions both locally and globally; and, eventually, changes in behavior.

Discovery Center, United States Space Foundation
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Discovery Center, operated by the United States Space Foundation, will partner with the Pikes Peak Library District to implement Small Steps, Giant Leap: STEM Adventures for Little Space Explorers, a free early literacy program designed for children ages 3-6 that seeks to engage the target audience of low-income and military families, populations currently underserved by the Discovery Center. The program is an interactive storytelling experience with an associated hands-on craft that occurs twice monthly, once in person and once virtually, and is designed to enable early learners to grow in literacy via the lenses of science and space exploration while developing vital social skills and self-esteem.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

EcoExploratorio: Museo de Ciencias de Puerto Rico’s In-STEM: An Inclusive STEM Museum Exhibition project will provide STEM educational material specifically for audiences with visual and hearing disabilities. In addition to an inclusive summer Moon to Mars exhibit, the museum will offer tours with American Sign Languages (ASL) interpreters and adaptations for the visually impaired. Accessible online, the museum will produce ten STEM activity videos. By being inclusive of people with disabilities, specifically focusing on people that are deaf or hard of hearing and blind or visually impaired, the museum seeks to promote lifelong access to STEM education.

Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County
Morehead, Minnesota

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County will contract with textile and painting conservators for an on-site, item-by-item survey of their collection, which includes paintings by regional artists and textiles from immigrant agrarian communities as well as contemporary items. These objects were identified in a 2019 Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) report as the most at-risk items. The conservators will assess their condition and make recommendations for the next steps in their care which will eventually allow these objects to become more accessible to the public through research and exhibitions. The project also will include collections care workshops conducted by the contracted conservators for local museum-studies and public-history undergraduate students.

Idaho Museum of Natural History, Idaho State University
Pocatello, Idaho

The Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University will digitize and make available to the public online images and information related to over 300,000 cataloged items in their collection, which contains material from sites spanning the last 13,000 years of prehistory in southeastern Idaho. The new online interface will allow educators, researchers, and students the ability to explore the collection through catalog information, 2D or 3D imagery, scanned documents, and interpretive narratives, and it leverages existing Museum database infrastructure to increase access to Idaho’s natural and cultural heritage for the purpose of research, education, and NAGPRA considerations.

Kidzeum of Health and Science
Springfield, Illinois

Kidzeum of Health and Science will partner with Springfield, Illinois School District 186 to create a two-week STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) residency for approximately 1,000 second graders in the district. The residency will take place at Kidzeum during the 2021-2022 school year. The program will include a curriculum created by teachers, school administrators, and museum staff, featuring a collaborative STEAM project that builds on Kidzeum exhibit content. Literacy, physical education, music, social studies, and social-emotional wellness will also be included in the curriculum as the Kidzeum tests the hypothesis that museums can benefit young learners and their families by serving as a place for longer term, immersive education programs. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine will provide project evaluation and subsequent reporting.

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