IMLS makes funding awards of more than $8.4 million to ASTC members

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced the fiscal year (FY) 2022 recipient of funding awards through several of its competitive grant programs.

This includes $6.3 million in National Leadership Grants for Museums and $29.7 million for the Museums for America program—including the Museums Empowered and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums.

IMLS has also released funding opportunity announcements for the next round of awards for these four programsas well as Museum Grants for African American History and Culture and Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services. Applications for all six programs are due on November 15, 2022.

National Leadership Grants for Museums

National Leadership Grants for Museums support projects led by museums and related organizations 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. Among the 16 projects funded are three at ASTC members, for a total of more than $1 million:

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) will use a participatory design research approach to identify and reinvent educational practices that hinder a sense of belonging among minoritized visitors and staff. The project will begin with an equity audit of current and historic institutional practices at both CMP and the Madison Children’s Museum. Working groups at each site will engage with other partners, using the findings to develop a preliminary framework of learning practices focused on belonging. They then will conduct experiments designed to operationalize the learning practices and use workshops where researchers, educators, and young people swap roles and work together to study, revise, and lead educational activities that enact the learning practices. The project team will disseminate a toolkit of research activities that other sites can use to create collaboratively defined learning practices that help more learners to thrive.

Columbus, Ohio

COSI will lead a multi-site research project to explore museum visitors’ motivations, expectations, and satisfaction, which will provide insights to support the design of visitor-centered experiences in museums. The project team will develop, refine, and test research instruments, and then will work with four museums, including a science center, history park, zoo, and an art museum, to gather data about their visitors’ experiences. They will compare the specific site findings to those institutions’ understandings of the same experiences. Representatives from all four sites will discuss the findings during a remote convening, and COSI will share research results through a peer-reviewed journal article and presentations at conferences. The museum will make research instruments available through a digital toolkit.

Madison Children’s Museum
Madison, Wisconsin

Madison Children’s Museum will develop a climate and resiliency framework, developmentally appropriate for children ages birth through 8, that focuses on empathy, resiliency, and the environment. A coalition of nine children’s museums and science centers will jointly develop and test the framework. Each institutional partner will use the framework to develop new programming, an exhibition, or educational content at their museum. Each institution will also commit to lowering their carbon emissions through activities such as buying wind power or installing a solar array. The museum will develop a toolkit that contains the framework and model educational programs and strategies to engage the public. The project will provide museum professionals with culturally relevant climate science education, training in the science of mindfulness and tools for its application, and support in creating locally based creative initiatives and climate solutions for their museums.

Museums for America

Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care. Among the 120 projects funded are 30 at ASTC members, for a total of more than $6.2 million:

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will implement “The Science Shop,” a pilot program to address local environmental challenges through community engagement. In partnership with the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, the museum will hold community workshops to identify environmental concerns and co-create actionable projects to respond to them. The partners will match projects with their own resources to frame issues, design appropriate interventions, and implement and assess impact. Academy staff will participate in training on community-based research and diversity, equity, and inclusion to strengthen their ability to facilitate this work. This program will support community members as active participants in shaping their future and advance the transformation of the Academy from a traditional natural history museum to a change agent that is of, by, and for the city it serves.

Adler Planetarium
Chicago, Illinois

The Adler Planetarium will collaborate with Illinois library system partners to reach audiences throughout the state in advance of the October 2023 and April 2024 solar eclipses. The planetarium will develop a booklet and poster for librarians featuring solar eclipse educational activities and content. It will distribute these resources, along with a supply of solar viewing glasses, to every public library in Illinois, equipping them to share sky observing resources with their community members. The planetarium will then facilitate in-person and online professional development opportunities for librarians on solar eclipse-related topics. The project will further Adler Planetarium’s goal to reduce barriers to science and science resources, while providing participating librarians with new astronomy knowledge and improving their ability to offer related programs and respond to public questions.

American Museum of Natural History
New York, New York

The American Museum of Natural History will pilot enhanced field trip experiences for elementary school teachers and students in local communities, with a focus on addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion. The museum will partner with teachers to co-assess how existing field trip resources for teachers are used. They will co-develop new professional learning experiences guided by the New York State Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) Education Framework that support teachers’ strategic planning of field trips through an explicit lens of equity and access. This project will inform the museum’s efforts to develop a new model for teachers at all grade levels to plan and execute impactful, rich, and meaningful field trip experiences for diverse students across New York City and the region.

Boston Children’s Museum
Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Children’s Museum will undertake “Getting to Know You,” a collaborative project to better understand audience needs and interests. The museum will partner with consultants, community advisors, and a learning community of three other children’s museums to create culturally responsive research tools. The project team will develop an audience map across the four areas of the museum’s new operating model, identify audience groups not currently being reached, determine audience goals, and conduct pilot testing as well as formal data collection. The resulting report will include a data-driven programmatic plan for future work and the museum will share lessons learned for adaption by the partner museums and the wider museum field. This project will enable the museum to establish a process for engaging in ongoing culturally responsive audience research.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Children’s Museum will expand its Museum-on-the-Go (MOTG) program, an initiative designed to introduce collections-based learning experiences using a “field-trip-in-a-box” concept. The museum will incorporate new elements to the existing program for Pre-K classrooms and extend its reach to K–3 educators and students. Project activities will include conducting formative research and outreach through meetings with an educator advisory council of K–3 teachers; creating 24 new MOTG cases aligned with NY state learning standards; providing eight educator professional development workshops; and producing a summative evaluation report on the Pre-K initiative. The project will serve 100 educators and 3,000 students by providing object and inquiry-based resources for classrooms, and the museum will disseminate project results at professional conferences and through its website.

Children’s Discovery Museum
Normal, Illinois

The Children’s Discovery Museum will expand its early childhood outreach program, Growing STEAM Potential through the Power of Play, to four new locations. In partnership with the Bloomington and Normal Libraries and the Illinois State University’s Psychology Department, the museum will develop and implement high-impact, multi-interaction programs designed to engage students along with their families and teachers, including activities such as in-classroom lessons, field trips, family fun events at partner sites, and private family nights at the museum. The expanded Growing STEAM program will enhance and support formal school curricula with informal learning experiences; increase opportunities for positive STEAM experiences for at-risk youth; provide families with resources to reinforce their role as their child’s first teacher; and provide teachers with professional development resources to empower them to continue teaching hands-on learning in four new locations.

Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati Museum Center will fabricate and install the exhibit Ancient Worlds Hiding in Plain Sight, combining its invertebrate paleontology collection of more than 450,000 specimens with cutting-edge technology. Using an interdisciplinary approach and inclusive lens, the exhibit will blend science, history, and technology to enliven stories of the city’s prehistoric environment. Project activities will include preparing and reviewing gallery designs, fabricating and testing prototypes, and building out the exhibit and adjoining Paleo Lab. The exhibit will enrich the quality of life for Cincinnatians and other visitors, serving as an educational resource and contributing to the global understanding of Ordovician fossils.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will rehouse and digitize the Hamann-Todd Non-Human Primate Skeletal Collection, which comprises almost 1,000 skeletal specimens, including over 400 great apes—each with accompanying records of genus, species, developmental stage, and where the specimen was collected. The project will process bones holding dried soft tissue to make them available for scientific study; 3D-scan specimens of a representative sample of the collection and provide research and education access online; and purchase new storage cabinets, drawers, trays, and archival quality storage boxes to upgrade and extend collection preservation. The effort will result in a well-preserved collection that is accessible for scientific research, education, and public engagement locally, nationally, and internationally.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History will design, prototype, and implement an interactive exhibit that prompts visitors to use gestures to see how they connect with organisms from around the world. Museum staff will work with a consultant to produce audiovisual installations in the exhibit and prototype technical aspects, such as the game engine, visual effects, body tracking, as well as user feedback. Additionally, the consultant will develop a manual for content and technical guidance and train staff on the software utilized for the project. The museum will make the software source code available online for other institutions interested in developing a similar media exhibit. The project is part of a larger effort to move beyond the traditional presentation of artifacts by reimaging and reinventing the museum’s facilities, galleries, and visitor experiences to place humans within a broader context.

Connecticut Science Center
Hartford, Connecticut

The Connecticut Science Center will redesign an exhibit about space to include up-to-date science, interactive experiences, inquiry-based public programs, and curriculum connections to STEM learning. The museum will contract the Science Museum of Minnesota as a collaborative partner in concept development, design, prototyping, fabrication, and installation of the exhibit. They will gear the exhibit toward family audiences, specifically children ages three to 13 and multi-generational families. The museum’s program staff will develop and pilot new Live Science programming that will complement the gallery exhibits. The project goal is to generate enthusiasm and creativity to bolster interest in space, science and STEM careers in the fields of engineering, nutrition, and biology.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver, Colorado

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will conduct a three-year project to advance collections stewardship for logistically challenging large bones of dinosaurs in the Morrison Formation fossil collection. The project will increase access to these scientifically significant specimens—including holotype specimens—for scholars and the public. Project activities will include repairing, preparing, rehousing, archival cradling, and 3D scanning the specimens. It also will support purchasing 3D scanning equipment for large specimens. The project will offer numerous opportunities for early-career paleontologists through a term preparator position and three paid internships that will make significant specimens available for study for the first time. This project will result in improved care of this collection, enhanced collections access, and a wider dissemination of the collection and its significance for museum visitors, the general public, researchers, and communities where the fossils originated.

DISCOVERY Children’s Museum
Las Vegas, Nevada

Discovery Children’s Museum will redesign its central tower-climber exhibit to be an immersive learning experience for children of all ages exploring themes of the natural world. Informed by years of operation and a planning process led by children’s museum consultants, museum staff will work with a design firm, a contracted fabricator, and a planning consultant to take existing conceptual renderings through design, content development, fabrication, and installation. The exhibit redesign will improve experiential learning through accessibility measures, such as dual-language signage and the modulation of sound and activities. Ongoing stakeholder testing of prototypes will guide project development, and staff will share the project evaluation with peer cultural organizations.

Discovery Museum
Acton, Massachusetts

The Discovery Museum will design and build a new exhibit exploring the subject of cause and effect, targeting children ages zero to 12 and their adult companions. Informed by an advisory group of researchers, museum staff will work with exhibit design consultants to prototype, develop, and fabricate up to 10 interactive, accessible exhibit components, highlighting different types of causal relationships. To extend these learning opportunities to a broader audience, the museum will partner with public libraries and child-focused nonprofit organizations, which will host replicated subsets of the exhibit at their sites. They will jointly develop supplemental activities such as children’s reading lists and take-home activity kits to allow visitors to continue exploring on their own. An external evaluator will assess project outcomes, which will include increasing participants’ knowledge about cause and effect mechanisms and building their confidence and persistence.

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
Burlington, Vermont

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain will build on its long-term partnership with the Vermont Abenaki community to improve interpretation and renew support for community priorities. Through evaluation and ongoing collaboration with Abenaki partners, ECHO will design an exhibit for its “Native Connections” gallery and provide staff with cultural competency training to improve their capacity to build and maintain healthy community partnerships. ECHO will also host a program series spearheaded by the Vermont Abenaki Alliance to address its need to cultivate the next generation of leaders, align cultural revitalization efforts, and build consensus among the four tribal bands. As a result, ECHO will appropriately interpret the Abenaki community story and honor its voice; the next generation of Abenaki leaders will feel a renewed connection to their cultural heritage; and a deeper understanding of the Abenaki experience will inform museum practices.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Explora will undertake a collaborative project with the City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, Fathers New Mexico, and the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps to address the community’s need for outdoor family learning experiences and the achievement gaps faced by children and families of color. The project team will build upon a well-tested engagement strategy including listening sessions and community design charrettes to create culturally relevant STEAM activities and exhibits that transform the city’s Tiguex Park into a “Family Science Park.” They will develop science lessons that families can use on their own at the park, supported by extension activities on Explora’s website and in the museum. The project will increase STEAM confidence within community members, particularly young fathers of color, by engaging them in the process of building, prototyping, and installing activities.

San Francisco, California

The Exploratorium will develop accessible STEAM exhibits and learning experiences in partnership with Community Science Workshops (CSWs), informal learning centers in underserved communities across California working with diverse youth audiences. The project team will collaborate with CSWs to develop 8–10 affordable, flexible exhibits to enable STEAM learning in community settings and will create accompanying at-home learning exercises to extend the experiences. Through a project website, the museum will share the exhibit designs, fabrication framework, and lessons learned with the field to enable recreation by other informal learning centers and offer guidance to museums and community organizations looking to embark on a collaborative design process. The project will enable the Exploratorium to continue its efforts to dismantle systemic barriers to engaging the public in impactful and inspiring STEAM learning and reaching underserved audiences in the communities in which they reside.

Field Museum of Natural History
Chicago, Illinois

The Field Museum of Natural History will partner with the Milwaukee Public Museum to conduct a collections digitization project of their Devonian fossil collections. Project activities will include supporting paid internships; updating staff and intern training and procedures manuals; creating catalog records and data entry; uploading images to the collections management database; and linking to catalog entries. The project team will also conduct data quality control checks, process image metadata using Audubon Core Multimedia Resources Metadata schema and share the new resources online. The museum will include the digitized collections in an educational outreach website that will explain the significance of these fossils to K–12 teachers and students. This project will expand intellectual control of the collections through digitized, updated, and verified catalog entries and will improve the ability of staff and scholars to use and access the collections and their associated data.

Florida Museum of Natural History
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida

The Florida Museum of Natural History will expand the Museum in the Parks program to reach youth who are typically underrepresented in museum programs and in the science field. Participants will learn about natural history in outdoor state and local park settings by interacting with scientists, exploring museum collections, observing live organisms, and participating in hands-on activities. The museum will hire two part-time education assistants to lead the development and delivery of the virtual and in-person programs. Libraries, community partners, and the general public will also have access to the project resources online in the form of Museum in the Parks kits, videos, and activity guides. By collaborating with a variety of community partner organizations, the museum hopes the program will bring diverse communities together to learn about natural history, while making its research and collections more widely accessible.

Long Island Children’s Museum
Garden City, New York

The Long Island Children’s Museum will implement “STEM4all,” an expansion of its long-standing Westbury STEM Partnership program to all third grade and K–12 special education classes in the Westbury School District. The project team will combine staff working with the Westbury STEM Partnership with staff who manage LICM4all, the museum’s community engagement initiative that serves visitors with disabilities. In collaboration with Teacher Advisory Councils, they will develop, test, and refine STEM learning experiences that reflect appropriate curriculum standards and accommodate multiple languages and abilities. They will also provide professional development sessions for teachers and engage families in STEM learning during special events at elementary schools and the museum. This project will address an ongoing and documented need for comprehensive STEM education in a largely low-income, minority and immigrant-serving school district.

Mississippi Children’s Museum
Jackson, Mississippi

In response to a statewide requirement for schools to offer computer science curricula by the 2024–2025 school year, the Mississippi Children’s Museum will launch a pilot program for 4th grade students and their STEAM teachers to learn about coding and robotics. Project activities will include developing and delivering professional development to 4th grade STEAM teachers, creating coding kits, and offering two regional coding challenges. The coding kits will include equipment, lesson plans, and other digital resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. An external evaluator will design and implement pre- and post-project evaluation instruments and the museum will make resources available online to educators through a comprehensive database of digital literacy resources. The collaborative educational model will help prepare the state’s future workforce by laying a foundation for increased digital literacy.

Museum of Science
Boston, Massachusetts

The Museum of Science, Boston will establish measures and methods for ongoing assessment related to its newly adopted mission statement: to inspire a lifelong love of science in everyone. The museum will work with expert advisors to refine impact measures, identify key evaluation methods, and discuss participant sampling. Community advisors will help the museum employ culturally responsive evaluation practices and bring in local voices. Pilot testing and an analysis of baseline data will provide the insight necessary for future planning, sustained impact measurement, and growth. By better articulating its mission achievement through data, the museum will improve the visitor experience, attract new visitors, and expand its reach, while increasing access to and enjoyment of science in its community and beyond.

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science will improve the care and access of approximately 1,400 oversized fossil specimens, including many scientifically and educationally valuable holotype specimens. The project will involve purchasing specialized supplies and equipment needed for handling oversized collections. Museum staff working with paid interns and volunteers will rehouse the specimens using archival storage mounts and long-lasting polyethylene pallets, reorganize and move the oversized collections to a new collections storage space to reduce overcrowding, and barcode the oversized specimen containers and mounts and add them to the museum’s collection management database’s object tracking module. They will cover all open shelves to provide protection from dust accumulation. Outreach activities will highlight the specimens and rehousing efforts. This project will bring the storage environment up to museum and safety standards, improving long-term preservation and increasing access for researchers.

New York Transit Museum
Brooklyn, New York

The New York Transit Museum will enhance access to a collection of prints and negatives documenting the first line to open in the New York City subway system. The Route 1 collection contains an estimated 5,000 prints and 3,350 negatives that depict the 28 subway stations and 9.1 miles of tunnels that opened on October 27th, 1904. The museum will engage two contract archivists to catalog, digitize, rehouse, and create a finding aid for the images. The museum will use the newly digitized images in exhibitions and programming in addition to sharing them through social media and its online collections portal. The museum will also display selections of the images at the transit system’s main facility, on public kiosks throughout Manhattan, and on digital screens throughout the subway system, promoting a greater public understanding of the local history of transit.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Portland, Oregon

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) will address two regional needs identified through community listening with Indigenous and tribal partners–learning opportunities focused on climate and environment and increased Indigenous and tribal visibility and affirmation. In partnership with the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the museum will launch a redesign of its Life and Earth Halls into a unified space known as the Natural Sciences Hall. Project activities will include working with advisors and a cohort of Native-identifying teens to develop, pilot, and document a co-development process for learning experiences, and creating up to three exhibit experiences that center traditional ecological knowledge as complementary to Western science as a way of understanding and addressing climate change. OMSI evaluation staff will closely collaborate with NAYA’s evaluation team to prioritize input from Native youth and their families.

Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

The Peabody Museum of Natural History will curate and digitize its collection of histology slides representing the research of Joseph Eastman on Antarctic fishes. The museum will hire three undergraduate student assistants to aid staff in cleaning, scanning, and rehousing slides as well as cataloging and digital data migration. Additionally, museum staff will perform technical analysis on deteriorating mounting media to determine conservation treatment protocols. Staff will present their findings at conferences, and Joseph Eastman will lead a workshop on the collection for Yale students and present a public museum program. As a result of the project, the museum will make high resolution digital images available online for researchers and educators.

Science Museum of Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota will inventory, document, and digitize its collection of Maya ethnographic material from Chiapas, Mexico. The museum will hire an anthropology collections assistant and a collections technician to work with volunteers and community advisors on the rehousing and cataloging of the collection. The museum will partner and work closely with the Museo Na Bolom and consult with Maya weavers from neighboring villages about textiles, weaving tools, and raw materials. The project will result in standardized documentation of the collection that the museum will make locally accessible through exhibition and globally accessible through online platforms to scholars, artists, and Maya community members in the United States and Chiapas.

Sternberg Museum of Natural History
Fort Hays State University
Hays, Kansas

The Sternberg Museum of Natural History will stabilize and rehouse its collection of Miocene-aged vertebrate fossils that document the evolution of grasslands across the Great Plains. Museum staff will assess and inventory the collection, stabilizing fragile specimens and rehousing the collections as needed. A graduate student assistant and two undergraduate student employees will aid staff in digitization and data management. Staff and students will attend a professional conference to share project progress. The project will result in increased access to specimens and data for researchers as well as for the public through educational programming, an online exhibit, and online data publication.

The DoSeum
San Antonio, Texas

The DoSeum will complete the fabrication of an exhibition designed to equip children with the skills needed to address the future. The project builds on an earlier IMLS grant that generated community input to support the exhibition design, which targets children ages 4-11 and economically disadvantaged students. The museum will host one final community conversation to solicit feedback, using exhibit prototypes and multimedia elements. The museum will work with contractors to fabricate the exhibition and provide training to staff prior to its opening. Formative and summative evaluation will guide the project, allowing for revisions as needed. The exhibition is intended to travel for five years visiting three sites per year, extending its impact to a potential of 15 additional communities.

The Henry Ford
Dearborn, Michigan

The Henry Ford will conserve, rehouse, and create fully digital catalog records for objects in its collection relating to agriculture and the environment. Museum staff will conduct mold remediation, cleaning, and stabilizing treatments to conserve objects. To support the project, the museum will hire a full-time conservator and a collections management specialist as well as a part-time cataloger and an associate curator. Project staff will create and update object records with photography and improve both physical and virtual access to collections and objects through rehousing and digitization. They will make catalog records available to the public online with associated object narratives about the history of food systems and the environment.

The Tech Interactive
San Jose, California

The Tech will conduct an evaluation of its virtual and in-person field trip programs to adapt to the evolving needs of the education community after the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include conducting a landscape needs assessment to better understand educators’ perspectives on field trips and barriers to participation; updating existing field trip programs, marketing, and operations in response to the findings with iterations as needed; and publishing/disseminating learnings as a case study to support other science museums with strategies for making field trips more accessible for schools. The results of the evaluation will aid The Tech in increasing field trip participation to provide more K–12 students with critical hands-on science and engineering learning experiences.

Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff

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. Projects could focus on digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, or organizational management. Among the 20 projects supported are five at ASTC members, for a total of more than $900,000:

Chabot Space and Science Center
Oakland, California

Chabot Space and Science Center will implement a professional development effort designed to improve its understanding of and ability to better serve its diverse community. Project activities include rigorous anti-bias and anti-racism training for all staff, Board members, adult volunteers, and teen volunteers and interns. The series of trainings will lead to the creation of an action plan for continued work. Additionally, staff will enhance volunteer recruitment efforts to ensure that adult and teen volunteers reflect the diversity of the local community. An evaluator will track progress toward meeting institutional equity goals. This project will result in a more accessible, safe, and welcoming environment for staff, volunteers, and visitors and a more diverse teen volunteer and intern program.

Computer History Museum
Mountain View, California

The Computer History Museum will improve the design and outcomes of its programs by developing an institution-wide approach to evaluation. Museum staff will receive training in evaluation tools and techniques. Additional project activities include developing a museum-wide evaluation rubric along with metrics and a dashboard to measure outcomes and impact. The structure of the project is intended to help break down existing departmental barriers and to create shared cross-institutional evaluation of both digital and in-person programs. The project will result in a holistic evaluation framework that integrates impact, assessment, and learning strategies that will increase staff’s ability to assess museum offerings across virtual and onsite platforms for planning, decision-making, and impact.

Creative Discovery Museum
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Creative Discovery Museum will establish a training and development program designed to meet the career development needs of staff. The program will include three training tracks that use in-person, virtual, and pre-recorded formats. The three different tracks will focus on staff orientation, customer service, and security; job-specific trainings; and personal development and leadership. Part-time staff will be able to participate in 40 hours of training annually, and full-time staff will be able to participate in 80 hours of training annually. The museum will hire a staff person to coordinate the training program. A staff advisory council will work with the museum’s leadership team and a consultant to plan and develop courses. of the Creative Discovery Museum Academy resulting from this project will provide a robust employee training and development program to help the museum’s staff achieve their career development goals.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Denver, Colorado

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will develop a training program for emerging leaders in the museum. Six cohorts of 12 staff members will participate in a 12-week training program led by a newly hired training specialist to develop leadership skills. The curriculum will help participants learn about themselves, their work styles and strengths, and museum operations and initiatives; the goal is to prepare employees for advancement within the museum, the community, and the museum field. Long-term outcomes of the leadership training include strengthened leadership capacity; increased employee engagement; and progress in succession planning through growing diverse future leaders. This project will develop a tested leadership training model for museum professionals and strengthen the museum’s organizational culture.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will streamline its professional development programming for staff to ensure that they have individualized learning tracks that respond to their needs as well as those of the organization. Project activities include the launch of an institutional learning management system and learning library as well as the development of new training modules. External trainers will develop and present sessions related to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; security and OSHA compliance; childhood development; and management. The trainings will be designed to help the museum’s 350 staff members be better equipped to create a more inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all visitors as well as fellow staff and volunteers.

Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program, was designed to reduce the application on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Projects focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access. Among the 59 projects supported are seven at ASTC members, for a total of more than $260,000:

Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
Dover, New Hampshire

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire will implement “Bolstering A Childcare System in Crisis,” a series of educational initiatives designed to help providers and families provide enriching, engaging, and developmentally appropriate play-based learning (PBL) activities to children from birth to age 5. In partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s Early Childhood Education Center, the museum will offer professional development training for early childcare providers; provide hands-on educational opportunities for families and caregivers; and distribute PBL activity kits to 20 early childcare providers, four family resource centers, and six library partners across the state. As a result of this project, providers and caregivers will strengthen their PBL knowledge base and prepare New Hampshire’s youngest children to succeed in kindergarten.

Dennos Museum Center
Northwestern Michigan College
Traverse City, Michigan

The Dennos Museum Center on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College will improve the care of its collection through rehousing and inventory updates. Informed by a recent Museum Assessment Program (MAP) report, the museum will purchase and install five compact shelving units and reorganize their storage space to optimize collections care for approximately 165 objects from Michigan and the Midwest. Museum staff will create new archival boxes and mounts as needed and update inventory records. The project will enhance curatorial ease of access for research, teaching, and exhibition purposes, while providing expansion space for future collections, rehousing, and other collections management functions. Additionally, the museum will share project updates and results on social media and in the college newspaper.

L. C. Bates Museum
Good Will Home Association
Hinckley, Maine

Informed by reports from its participation in the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program and the Museum Assessment Program (MAP), the L.C. Bates Museum will engage a conservator to conduct preservation treatments on 23 individual 1800’s bird mounts and one mounted sailfish. In partnership with the Central Kennebec Heritage Council, the museum will conduct a workshop on the topic of caring for natural history specimens. Volunteers and interns will assist with project activities, and the museum will provide related programs for rural students and families, such as docent-led tours of the collection and the opportunity to learn from a conservator at work. Activities will include a written evaluation and the museum will share project results through social media and newsletter updates.

Longview World of Wonders
Longview, Texas

Longview World of Wonders will design, build, and evaluate the STEAM Train, an interactive hands-on exhibit that connects children to the railroad industry’s unique history and how it shaped the local Longview community. Project activities will include collaborating with community partners to determine exhibit content such as educational components and interactive elements, engaging an exhibit design firm to design and build the exhibit, and conducting monitoring and evaluation of the exhibit to determine effectiveness and sustainability. The resulting exhibit will serve as a s learning opportunity relevant to local families and the surrounding community.

Muncie Children’s Museum
Muncie, Indiana

Muncie Children’s Museum will fabricate and install the White River Water Table exhibit to provide a learning environment in which children ages 10 and under can practice the skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The museum will work with an exhibit design firm to craft the new exhibit component based on recent concept development and schematic design planning. This project will support the efforts of East Central Indiana—a 9 county regional coalition– to create a culture of education that provides residents with an educational attainment level to be successful in school and the workplace. The museum will partner with other community organizations involved in this effort to develop a framework of evaluation to capture measurable outcomes that are important to guiding future educational planning.

Pioneer Trails Regional Museum
Bowman, North Dakota

The Pioneer Trails Regional Museum will improve the management and care of its fossil collections and provide greater accessibility for both staff and the public. The project will focus on over 50,000 specimens from the Hell Creek site, which includes fossils that help detail the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event and recovery. The museum’s paleontology curator will work with volunteers and seasonal curatorial assistants to conduct a complete inventory, rehouse, and photograph specimens, and input associated data into a collections database. The collections database will include digitized images of the fossil collection and be searchable online for easy access and use.

Virginia Museum of Natural History
Martinsville, Virginia

The Virginia Museum of Natural History will enhance its science education programs and outreach activities by transforming an existing underutilized laboratory into a new Exploration Lab. The lab will include new microscopy tools that will aid museum educators and curators in programming for school groups and homeschool families. Museum curators also will use the lab to teach high school and college students as well as citizen scientists in the Virginia Master Naturalists program. This space also will serve as a facility for visiting scientists and high school and college interns conducting specimen-based research with museum curators. Members of the public will be able to observe ongoing lab activities and attend related museum programming for intergenerational exploration and hands-on learning.

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