The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced 203 grants—totaling $31,789,376—to museums across the United States through four of its programs: National Leadership Grants for Museums, Museums for America, Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff, and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums.
ASTC-member institutions received 42 of these awards, totaling $7,094,855.
The next deadline for these programs is November 16, 2020. If you are interested in developing proposals now for this upcoming round of submissions, check out the specific IMLS programs linked below and visit the IMLS website for a listing of upcoming and on-demand informational webinars that provide additional information.
IMLS investment in funding programs for museums is dependent on bipartisan Congressional support each year. Please be ready to respond to ASTC advocacy alerts, when contacting your elected officials in Washington, D.C., helps increase the amount of available funds to support the meaningful work ASTC members do at their facilities and in their communities.
National Leadership Grants for Museums
The National Leadership Grants for Museums program supports projects that address critical needs of the museum field and that have the potential to advance practice in the profession so that museums can improve services for the American public. There are five project categories: Collections Care and Public Access; Data, Analysis, and Assessment; Digital Platforms and Applications; Diversity and Inclusion; and Professional Development.
This year, 13 grants were made, totaling $5,890,376. Three of these, totaling $807,376, were awarded to ASTC members. Click here for more information on these funded projects.
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California: $50,000 to test the utilization of machine-learning technology to assign metadata to digital collections content—replacing the manual process currently in use—and make the content more accessible to patrons.
Museum of Science, Boston: $86,407 for COVES (Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies) to work with the art-museum community and adapt a collaboration model for collecting and analyzing visitor experience data across disciplines that has been successful with science centers and museums.
spectrUM Discovery Area, Missoula, Montana: $670,969 to implement Making Across Montana, a project to engage K–12 students and teachers in rural and tribal communities with making and tinkering, through a mobile making and tinkering exhibition and education program, teacher professional development workshops, and curriculum resources and supplies.
Museums for America
The Museums for America (MFA) program supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public in three categories: Lifelong Learning, Community Anchors and Catalysts, and Collections Stewardship and Public Access.
The MFA program this year made 109 awards—totaling $19,673,947—including 41 grants ($5,314,560) to these ASTC members. Click here for additional information on MFA grants awarded.
The Adler Planetarium, Chicago: $248,825 to expand access to STEM programs for African American and Latinx Chicago teens through a progressive series of entry-point, introductory, intermediate, and advanced level programs with teams of scientists, engineers, and educators undertaking authentic scientific research and solving real engineering challenges.
American Museum of Natural History, New York City: $248,118 to increase access to its Vertebrate Paleontology Archive by creating online catalog records for the collection of photographs, correspondence, and field notes.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum, New York: $249,500 to design the BK History Climber, a new exhibition for children ages 5–12, through its community-engaged exhibition planning process known as BK Voices.
Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, Gainesville, Florida: $127,017 for Operation Full STEAM, an exploratory outreach project designed to close achievement gaps for underserved elementary school students.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: $226,197 to redesign its popular Dinosphere exhibition to explore and test accessibility to ensure the discoveries from its Jurassic Mile dig site are accessible to all visitors.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: $158,064 for Simple Interactions: Supporting Relationships in Informal Learning Spaces, a project designed to develop knowledge around relational practices and their importance to human interactions across a variety of informal education contexts.
Children’s Museum Tucson, Arizona: $173,762 to launch Aprendemos, a program to provide equitable, play-based opportunities for underserved children through partnerships with local school districts, foster agencies, organizations that support refugee populations, and local food and diaper banks.
Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee: $250,000 to fabricate the Little Farm House, an exhibition for children ages 0–5 that will provide age-appropriate, hands-on, STEM-focused learning opportunities.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado: $240,740 to advance stewardship and public access for objects in its Northwest Coast Collection through collaborative conservation that involves Kwakwaka’wakw, Makah, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Tlingit and Haida tribes.
Explora, Albuquerque, New Mexico: $117,020 to carry out the Planting Seeds of STEM project, rooted in the agricultural traditions of New Mexico, to address the under-representation of people of color in STEM courses and careers.
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, Vermont: $248,966 to design, produce, and install Science Alive, a 1,500-square-foot astronomy and meteorology exhibit with supporting programs to promote lifelong learning through participation in scientific explorations.
The Field Museum, Chicago: $187,550 to treat and rehouse embroidered glass beaded items in its Native North American collections in a collaborative conservation approach that will encourage dialogue and engagement between conservators and regional tribal communities.
Grand Rapids Public Museum, Michigan: $30,000 to conserve and properly house about 5,000 historical images on glass slides and make them freely available and easily accessible on the museum’s website, as part of its larger Magic Lantern preservation and access project.
Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, Cambridge Massachusetts: $156,910 to implement a project expanding Hispanic engagement by collaborating with youth through community-based workshops and museum-based studio sessions in which teens will create audio and visual responses to exhibitions—and $250,000 for the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to catalog and digitize the archives that document eight expeditions to the Northwest Kalahari region of Africa and illuminate how the region’s indigenous peoples lived before their extended contact with the “modern world.”
The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan: $248,000 to expand its current public programming and create new programs that enable guests with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder to better access the institution’s collections, daily programs, and special events.
Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California: $161,206 to develop and implement the Relevance, Access, and Diversity (RAD) Docents project to build the institution’s capacity to deliver a sustainable and consistent system of recruiting and training docents that reflects the needs of diverse audiences.
Imagination Station, Toledo, Ohio: $250,000 to implement Toledo Tinkers: Through a Child’s Eyes, a new initiative to address barriers to STEM education and promote a lifelong love of those subjects through an outreach curriculum, mobile tinkering lab, Maker Club, drop-in tinkering program for families at libraries, and a community exhibition using the work of participating children to showcase the diversity of the Toledo community and its rich history of making and tinkering.
Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin: $250,000 to create Downtown Backyard, a landmark park addressing critical community health needs through a climbing sculpture, toddler zone, historic log cabin, stream, secret forest, and skating rink.
Mississippi Children’s Museum, Jackson: $197,160 to complete WonderBox, a 1,500-square-foot STEAM exhibit in the museum’s existing arts gallery that will explore topics such as design, art, coding, robotics, engineering, and circuitry.
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago: $225,782 to increase the general public’s access to its collection by creating a new online catalog accessible through the museum’s website, with curated artifact “sets” and high-resolution, 360-degree photography.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago: $85,919 to digitize its herbarium, a collection of 22,000 botanic specimens, including a significant portion that documents Midwestern landscapes prior to the urban and agricultural development that destroyed much of the region’s natural flora.
Rochester Museum and Science Center, New York: $192,006 to plan, design, fabricate, and evaluate its new Water Worlds exhibition exploring the Lake Ontario watershed and local environmental issues, using a hybrid exhibition model that integrates hands-on science and interactive technology with authentic collections objects in immersive environments.
San Diego Natural History Museum, California: $43,877 to curate a collection of arthropods that contains vouchers of the ecological history of vernal pools, one of California’s most endangered ecosystems.
Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York: $233,353 for Community Partnerships in STEM, which will expand opportunities for local youth from low-income households to engage with STEM topics through hands-on programming at the Sciencenter and partner locations.
Springfield Museums, Massachusetts: $84,637 to increase participation in informal science learning by making its educational programs and learning spaces more accessible and inclusive, through disability inclusion and universal design training for staff and the development of a scalable model of inclusive practice for all the museum’s science programming.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, Connecticut: $179,951 to complete pre-concept design phases of We ♥ America!, an immersive, three-dimensional storybook exhibition with digital elements that explores America and its people, places, and innovations that make it unique.
Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas: $250,000 to improve the conservation and preservation of its paleontology and geology collections to support continued fossil preparation for new fossil finds and acquisitions.
IMLS’s Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff program is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program. It supports staff capacity building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. There are four project categories: Digital Technology, Diversity and Inclusion, Evaluation, and Organizational Management.
Awards totaling $3,708,248 were made this year to 21 museums, including four totaling $696,668 granted to four ASTC members. Click here for more information on these funded projects.
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California: $102,301 to develop a comprehensive social media strategy and train a cross-museum staff team in the use of social media tools and planning and execution of a new social media strategy.
Long Island Children’s Museum, Garden City, New York: $132,712 to pursue succession planning by developing a departure-defined succession plan and an emergency succession plan; providing leadership development training for its staff and board; and supporting the museum’s efforts to build a culture of leadership and a strong core of leaders to guide the organization’s future.
Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington: $249,604 to undertake a two-year, institution-wide capacity-building initiative to increase staff knowledge and skills in best practices in data management and how to use new technology platforms for productivity, communication, collaboration, and storage needs.
Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, Utah: $212,051 to provide professional development training and skill mastery for horticulture collection and maintenance department employees to develop a career training pathway for advancement and increased pay.
Inspire! Grants for Small Museums
The Inspire! Grants for Small Museums program at IMLS is a special initiative of the Museums for America program. It is designed to help small museums implement projects that address priorities identified in their strategic plans. There are three project categories: Lifelong Learning, Community Anchors and Catalysts, and Collections Stewardship and Public Access.
In the recently announced awards, there were 60 grants totaling $2,516,805, including seven awards made to small ASTC members, totaling $276,251. Click here for more information on these funded projects.
Bisbee Science Lab, Arizona: $45,936 to solicit open calls for proposals from science/arts collaborators for the co-creation of locally sourced, affordable, accessible, interactive exhibitions based on selected STEAM themes.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, Dover: $47,182 to conduct the Advancing Play-Learning in New Hampshire project, a series of educational initiatives designed to help kindergarten teachers, parents, and caregivers implement play-based learning activities in children’s early education.
Gateway to Science, Bismarck, North Dakota: $49,712 to develop interpretive materials for a new Science First exhibition serving children up to age 5 and their parents, caregivers, and educators.
L.C. Bates Museum, Hinckley, Maine: $16,913 to conduct a collections stewardship project that will conserve and safeguard its historic taxidermy mounts, including a blue fin tuna mount, and develop a tuna presentation and conservation exhibit and related programming and visitor conservation activities.
Pensacola MESS Hall, Florida: $35,977 to create and deliver Science Sprouts, a four-session classroom program for kindergarten students, including related professional development for teachers, focusing on 10 underserved elementary schools in the community, providing students and teachers access to quality math, engineering, and science experiences.
Providence Children’s Museum, Rhode Island: $45,531 to expand and refine its Cultural Connection program, which brings diverse arts and humanities organizations from across Rhode Island to the museum on a monthly basis to enhance their work with young children and families.
Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton: $35,000 to enhance its Space Gallery exhibition with the purchase, adaptation, and installation of three interactive, digital exhibits—a moon lander that users can pilot, a simulated Mars rover and micro-copter that will allow guests to navigate a Martian atmosphere and surface, and a stellar playground where users can build their own solar system through an intuitive touch-interface that incorporates planets, stars, violent supernovas, black holes, and other space oddities.