21st Century Museum Professionals Grants Convening - February 4-5, 2010, Project Descriptions

 

21st Century Museum Professionals Grants Convening - February 4-5, 2010

Project Descriptions

List of Institutions:
Alaska State Museums
American Association for State and Local History
Art Education for the Blind
Association of Children's Museums
Association of Science-Technology Centers
Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
Boston Children's Museum
California Indian Museum and Cultural Center
Cooperstown Graduate Program/Research Foundation--State University of New York, Oneonta
Costume Society of America
Essex County Historical Society
Exploratorium
Florida Museum of Natural History/University of Florida, Office of Sponsored Research
Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Art Works
Lawrence Hall of Science/Regents of the University of California
Mid-America Arts Alliance
National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
New England Aquarium
Phoenix Zoo
Seton Hall University
UC Davis Arboretum/University of California
University of Washington
USS Constitution Museum Foundation
Utah Humanities Council

Alaska State Museums
Juneau, AK
Year: 2007
Amount: $163,275
Project Director: Scott Carrlee

The Museum Services Office of the Alaska State Museums partnered with the statewide professional association, Museums Alaska, to initiate an internship program for small museums and Native-run cultural centers. Eighteen interns were recruited nationwide to provide assistance to 20 host institutions, many of which are in isolated locations throughout the state. Two retired museum directors were hired to serve as professional mentors to provide technical assistance with project-specific activities during 10-week summer internships at each museum. The project benefited the professional development of both the interns and the host institutions by merging the theoretical knowledge of recent graduates with the practical experience of professional mentors within the day-to-day operations of small museums.

American Association for State and Local History
Nashville, TN
Year: 2005
Amount: $355,562
Project Director: Cherie Cook

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) created an incremental standards program for history museums that targeted small and mid-sized institutions. AASLH research has established that many small museums are interested in a standards program that will allow their organizations to improve at their own pace and as their budget allows. AASLH created a framework for helping these museums by drawing on the technical assistance services of field service offices and state and regional museum associations. In addition, AASLH developed a "train-the-trainer" component to strengthen the capacity of service providers, including those in states and territories that do not have ongoing field assistance programs.

Nashville, TN
Year: 2009
Amount: $407,810
Project Director: Cherie Cook

Building on the creation and piloting of a "standards toolkit" for history museums, the American Association for State and Local History launched a cohesive national program to implement the achievement of best practices in the areas of mission, vision, and governance; audience; interpretation; stewardship of collections; stewardship of historic structures and landscapes; and management. "ExCEL: Expanding Capacity, Excellence, and Leadership in History Organizations" targeted small and mid-sized historical societies and museums with tools and resources to improve their abilities to care for collections and provide leadership within communities. Grant funding supported the creation of an online standards community and clearinghouse of resources, as well as webinars supporting the six standards areas. The project also created curricula for state museum associations and other field service providers to support onsite courses and train-the-trainer sessions for regional museums.

Nashville, TN
Year: 2008
Amount: $494,041
Project Director: Bob Beatty

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) provided training for museum professionals in the fundamentals of project management -- a critical skill set for managing exhibitions -- education programs, collections-related activities, and capital projects. Working with experts from the business sector, AASLH developed and presented a series of onsite and web-based project management workshops specifically geared to history museum professionals. The project began with the development of a pilot workshop, followed by a series of 11 web-based follow-up modules for participants. Working with six regional museum associations, AASLH then offered the program to history professionals throughout the nation, reaching 195 museum professionals. By the end of the three year project, a full online project management course was created and offered to the field at large.

Art Education for the Blind
New York, NY
Year: 2007
Amount: $77,050
Project Director: Nina Levent

Art Education for the Blind (AEB) completed the production and online launch of its "Handbook for Museums and Educators," a practical guide designed to facilitate the process of creating accessible programming for people with visual impairments or other disabilities. AEB worked with over ten museums to pilot and evaluate tools involving the development of accessible art education programs, disability awareness training for museum staff, and the creation of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Available both online and in CD format, the handbook’s multimedia features offer effective, user-friendly teaching tools, enabling users to select, download, and customize information and components most pertinent to their institutions’ needs.

Association of Children's Museums
Washington, DC
Year: 2007
Amount: $220,000
Project Director: Janet Rice-Elman

The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) launched the "Growing Healthy Museums" project to increase museums’ institutional capacity, knowledge, and skills as leaders in promoting health and wellness in their communities. Building on ACM’s national initiative, Good to Grow!, this new project helped museum leaders, educators, exhibit developers, and program managers to address the national crisis of childhood obesity. Funding supported three major activities: an institutional self-study and recognition program to help children’s museums infuse healthy practices throughout their operations; the publication of a "cookbook" of best practices of effective health-related programs and practices; and a conference and resource materials focused on building healthy community partnerships.

Association of Science-Technology Centers
Washington, DC
Year: 2005
Amount: $87,426
Project Director: Wendy Pollock

The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) published a series of books and programs designed to build knowledge of promising practices in planning and design, thereby increasing the capacity of museum professionals to better serve their audiences. The majority of museum planners come from fields outside of the museum world and require orientation to succeed in their new positions. ASTC provided print and online resources and opportunities for reflective practice in museum architecture and exhibit planning. The project drew on the special strengths and innovations of the science center field while addressing a broader audience of museum planners, exhibit developers and designers, and educators. The project's goal was to increase the ability of museum planners to create exhibits and museum environments that stimulate learning and community involvement.

Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
San Diego, CA
Year: 2008
Amount: $500,000
Project Director: David Lang

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a collaborative organization comprising 24 diverse museums and cultural institutions in San Diego, established the Balboa Park Learning Institute (BPLI). Over the three year project period, BPLI designed a professional development program targeted to the 2,500 professional staff members, 500 trustees, and 7,000 volunteer staffers in the park’s museums. As BPLI expanded, the classes were made available to museum colleagues and volunteers outside the park. BPLI developed and presented 66 workshops to build knowledge and skills in core museum competencies. Professional evaluation and assessment throughout the project prioritized learning needs and refined program delivery techniques. Three symposia were offered, bringing together staff and volunteers from park institutions and beyond to learn about and discuss best practices in museum management and leadership.

Boston Children's Museum
Boston, MA
Year: 2007
Amount: $423,214
Project Director: Jane Barry

The Boston Children’s Museum partnered with the Chicago Children’s Museum to incorporate family learning research into staff training. Building on audience research findings, the project facilitated more effective learning environments for multigenerational families by strengthening the role of children’s museum staff as resources for adult visitors. IMLS funding supported the development, testing, and implementation of standards of engagement and core curriculum modules targeted at program managers, educators, and front-line staff who have daily contact with visitors. Upon completion of training activities within the two museums, the final tools were broadly disseminated through professional associations and workshops on family learning in practice at various national conferences.

California Indian Museum and Cultural Center
Santa Rosa, CA
Year: 2009
Amount: $119,050
Project Director: Nicole Lim

The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center partnered with the National Indian Justice Center to create and pilot an online training program to build the consultation and coordination skills of tribal museum professionals. Because tribal museums operate under the auspices of sovereign tribal nations, skills in government-to-government communications with other entities are essential for effective planning, management and operations. Project leaders worked with an advisory committee to identify best practices in tribal consultation to guide the development of the online training program: "Protecting Our Legacies: Liaison Skills for Tribal Museum Personnel." The course was piloted at two test sites in California with extensive evaluation designed to validate its effectiveness. The course was then disseminated statewide, providing over 30 tribal museums with the essential skills necessary for consultation and coordination protocols that consider local resources and concerns.

Cooperstown Graduate Program/Research Foundation--State University of New York, Oneonta
Albany, NY
Year: 2008
Amount: $238,584
Project Director: Gretchen Sorin

SUNY’s Cooperstown Graduate Program partnered with the Museum Association of New York and the New York State Historical Association to create an institute to train the next generation of cultural "entrepreneurs." Focusing on the Northeast region, participants were selected from a wide range of museums. Coursework was designed to spark innovation and creativity in the planning and execution of all aspects of museum work, and to refine the skills and abilities of mid-career museum staff that will prepare them for future leadership roles. The institute used a case study, interactive approach with leaders who have led fundamental change within their own institutions. All materials were recorded and made available on a companion Web site that is accessible to institute participants as well as to the field, scholars, and the public.

Costume Society of America
Hillsborough, NJ
Year: 2007
Amount: $50,529
Project Director: Patricia Wesp

The Costume Society of America (CSA) presented a series of intensive training programs focused on the specialized care and preservation of costume and textile collections in small museums and historical societies. CSA offered annual preservation training workshops for 150 museum professionals over three years at sites in New Orleans, Phoenix, and Kansas City. The one-day workshops provided needed access to information, demonstrations, publications, specialized procedures, and practical applications. Additionally, in each host city, 20 highly experienced professionals—the CSA Angels—donated their services to a single institution for a full workday, assisting the staff of a small museum to tackle a specific project such as identification, documentation, repair, stabilization, or appropriate storage solutions within their collections.

Essex County Historical Society
Elizabethtown, NY
Year: 2007
Amount: $338,585
Project Director: Margaret Gibbs

Staff and volunteers of eight heritage centers within the Lakes to Locks Passage corridor of northern New York received training in best practices for museum operations in this comprehensive program coordinated by the Essex County Historical Society. The three-year project included eleven workshops on leadership and organizational structure, staff and volunteer training, mission and planning, collections care, and financial stability. Funding also supported hiring two "circuit riders" to help the heritage centers implement and reinforce the training and develop cultural heritage programming for visitors throughout the Lake Champlain region. Sixty cultural organizations in the surrounding region were invited to participate in the training workshops, improving skills and capacity building for over 200 museum professionals.

Exploratorium
San Francisco, CA
Year: 2008
Amount: $206,522
Project Director: Bronwyn Bevan

The Exploratorium collaborated with eight other science and children’s museums, four afterschool agencies, and a research organization to produce and publish a set of design principles to guide the planning, implementation, and assessment of museum science learning activities for afterschool audiences. As museums play an increasingly larger role in the expanding field of afterschool programs, the project provided an intensive professional development experience for 26 educational leaders from nine participating museums to create and test the incorporation of design principles at their sites. At the conclusion of the project, the Museums Afterschool: Principles, Data and Design Guidelines were web-published, providing tested designs, supporting data, and program descriptions that illuminate principles of evidence-based, engaging, content-rich, informal science in the afterschool environment. Through an aggressive dissemination plan, the guidelines impacted museum programming for thousands of children nationally.

Florida Museum of Natural History/University of Florida, Office of Sponsored Research
Gainesville, FL
Year: 2008
Amount: $365,299
Project Director: Jaret Daniels

The Florida Museum of Natural History established a broad partnership with six organizations involved with the emerging and increasingly important field of insect conservation biology. Grant funds supported intensive laboratory and field training workshops at partner institutions with established butterfly conservation and recovery programs. Professionals from natural history museums, zoos, and botanical gardens gained an enhanced understanding and increased competency in butterfly conservation and recovery techniques and will benefit from new opportunities for collaboration. Project activities also included web-based resource sharing, instructional printed materials, and scientific journal papers. The cross-training program strengthened the capacity of institutions and their staff to play a strategic role in addressing the decline in butterfly populations and the resulting threats to the environmental health of the planet.

Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Art Works
Washington, DC
Year: 2006
Amount: $204,258
Project Director: Eric Pourchot

The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (FAIC) created a team of "rapid responders" that can be mobilized to provide emergency assistance to museums in the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural and man-made disasters. The project benefited hundreds of museums and saved countless irreplaceable objects from needless damage and loss. FAIC selected 60 museum professionals to participate in high level training that included emergency response procedures, damage assessment methods, salvage techniques, and the organization and management of a recovery operation. A nationwide taskforce of specialists were available to work together on short notice to respond to emergency situations. Funded activities included the creation of the training course, preparation of print materials for training, presentation of workshops, and creation of a kit of basic response supplies.

Lawrence Hall of Science/Regents of the University of California
Berkeley, CA
Year: 2009
Amount: $313,843
Project Director: Catherine Halverson

The Lawrence Hall of Science implemented a two-phased professional development program for science museum educators to discuss, reflect on, and practice the knowledge and skills underlying their work to support scientific literacy among museum patrons. The project tested the "Reflecting on Practice Curriculum" and the "Leading Reflection Program," both designed to engage practitioners in extensive ongoing study of science pedagogy in museums, and reflective video techniques and tools to observe practice. After building the capacity of mid-career educators in reflective techniques and coaching skills, these educators implemented the curriculum at their own sites to provide professional development for early career educators, directly impacting six museums and over 45 educators at various stages of career development. The program and curriculum were made available to the field at the conclusion of the project.

Mid-America Arts Alliance
Kansas City, MO
Year: 2007
Amount: $400,000
Project Director: Edana McSweeney

The Mid-America Arts Alliance partnered with three state arts agencies to provide governance training for the trustees of 60 small, rural museums. Volunteer trustees are often unprepared to fully understand and manage the legal, ethical, and fiscal responsibilities involved with the management of nonprofit organizations. Mid-America Arts engaged both staff and trustees at these museums in activities to measure and improve their governing capacity. Funding supported cooperative workshops, online tutorials, on-site assistance from technical experts, and participation at museum conferences, as well as a rigorous system of locally controlled assessment, goal-setting, and self-evaluation. Project results were disseminated through brochures and conference presentations.

National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
Washington, DC
Year: 2006
Amount: $401,365
Project Director: Bambi Kraus

The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) created and presented the National Native Museum Training Program to benefit tribal museums. Tribally operated museums are primarily developed with the mission to preserve, perpetuate, and revitalize the cultural and historic heritage of native peoples. Most of these organizations are staffed by local tribal members who have not had the opportunity to participate in formal training in museum operations. Funding supported workshops in the areas of interpretation, education, collections care, and conservation. NATHPO also coordinated a convening of tribal museum directors to share insights on community engagement and funding sustainability. Funding also supported 20 paid internships for existing and future tribal museum personnel who enhanced their skills through hands-on experiences in established museums throughout the nation.

Washington, DC
Year: 2009
Amount: $260,498
Project Director: Bambi Kraus

The National Native Museum Training Program provided a variety of training and leadership opportunities for tribal museum professionals. The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) developed and presented two technical skills workshops on exhibition development and collections management; two director’s seminars on sustainability and leadership; and six online museum skills classes on the care of photographs, museum store management, pesticides and contaminants, collections databases, museum security, and establishing a tribal museum. Following the completion of the training offerings, NATHPO published a compendium of case studies highlighting successful tribal museum practices gleaned from the workshops and seminars. The project impacted the knowledge and skills of both current and future tribal museum professionals.

New England Aquarium
Boston, MA
Year: 2008
Amount: $228,825
Project Director: John Anderson

The New England Aquarium coordinated a collaboration of five aquariums to provide their educators with specialized training, materials, and tools to increase public awareness of ocean change. Twelve interpreters worked in teams to develop and test a "train the trainer" model for exploring the challenging issues of sea level rise, elevated water temperatures, acidification, and resulting threats to sea life and habitat with visitors in fun, informative, and relevant ways. By the end of the three-year project, over 200 interpreters were trained, a toolkit was developed for use with visitors, and a model training program was refined for adaptation by other aquariums. The partners are the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution, and the Aquarium of the Pacific in California.

Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix, AZ
Year: 2005
Amount: $441,067
Project Director: Laura Martin

The Phoenix Zoo, in partnership with TERC, a non-profit education and resource development organization, trained 450 zoo and aquarium education professionals to understand and incorporate mathematics into educational programs such as interpretations, tours, and workshops. Through a series of 20 workshops held at zoos and aquariums across the country over two years, workshop participants learned to plan programs that integrated the use of math with living animal collections. Mathematics is an important and underappreciated aspect of working with animal collections that can be highlighted for the public. Animal work provided young people with a much needed example of an everyday application of math. Workshop participants developed their own activities and tested them at their respective facilities. Successful educational programs were shared and became part of a body of programs that institutions can adapt and use.

Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
Year: 2007
Amount: $209,487
Project Director: Janet Marstine

The newly founded Institute of Museum Ethics at Seton Hall University launched a range of educational initiatives designed to help museum professionals create more transparent, accountable, and socially responsible institutions. Funding supported the introduction of two new courses on museum ethics in association with the University’s M.A. program in Museum Professions that were open to both graduate students and working professionals; a national conference on museum ethics; public lectures; workshops for University faculty on infusing ethics across the museum studies curriculum; and the design and launch of a unique web portal that has become a national resource featuring an ethics listserv, media feeds, and bibliographies and other tools to help museum professionals incorporate ethics into ongoing operations.

UC Davis Arboretum/University of California
Davis, CA
Year: 2009
Amount: $301,583
Project Director: Steven Greco

The UC Davis Arboretum developed, tested, implemented, and evaluated a multi-faceted geographic information system (GIS) training program for museum professionals in collaboration with more than 160 gardens and zoos participating in the Alliance for Public Gardens GIS. Training in the use of GIS allowed a broad mix of staff to more efficiently plan, track, manage, and report on their projects and responsibilities. This system facilitates curation, conservation, facilities management, education, and research by allowing easy access, manipulation, and flexible display of information about living collections, exhibits, and site features. Project activities included an online guide to GIS for beginners, training workshops, training videos and podcasts, a training Web site, and a social networking site for participants. A community volunteer training program was also piloted and can be replicated in botanical gardens and zoos across the nation.

University of Washington
Seattle, WA
Year: 2008
Amount: $278,141
Project Director: Kristine Morrissey

The University of Washington’s Museology Program partnered with the Woodland Park Zoo and the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments Center to develop a model of university-community collaboration where students work with client museums to evaluate exhibits and programs under the guidance of a research mentor. Students gained experience in museum/exhibit research and evaluation, as well as in project management, collaboration, and leadership. Staff at participating museums advanced their personal knowledge about visitors and the field of museum evaluation. The project prepared a new generation of evaluators and museum practitioners through an innovative apprentice-styled laboratory that integrated the strengths of mentoring, fieldwork, academics, and client-centered experiences. A publication with results of studies and samples of instruments provides guidance to other museums.

USS Constitution Museum Foundation
Charlestown, MA
Year: 2008
Amount: $236,676
Project Director: Anne Grimes Rand

The USS Constitution Museum shared theory, techniques, resources, and best practices that have proven to be successful at engaging family audiences at history museums. The project included two daylong "Idea Incubators" that featured experts in programming for family audiences and exhibit techniques to encourage family engagement; five Family Learning Across the Nation workshops; and an expansion of the familylearningforum.org Web site -- an online resource of 100 successful family programs as well as transcripts, videos, podcasts of the Idea Incubators, and links to supporting resources. Dissemination and communication plans enabled the project to reach over 1,500 museum professionals nationwide.

Utah Humanities Council
Salt Lake City, UT
Year: 2009
Amount: $233,383
Project Director: Cynthia Buckingham

The Utah Humanities Council partnered with the Utah Museums Association (UMA) to transform the state’s small and remote museums from isolated repositories of objects on display to venues that tell the story of their unique collections. "Museum Interpretation Initiative: Telling Our Stories" improved the curatorial, interpretive, and educational abilities of museum professionals through training opportunities focused on historical research, exhibit development, and docent practices. An estimated 475 museum professionals were reached through presentations at the UMA’s annual conferences over a three-year period, and a series of three additional workshops provided intensive training for 100 professionals from 50 museums. The project built a lasting network of cohorts through multiple opportunities for sharing skills and ideas.

 

Note: A total of 38 grants have been awarded through the 21st Century Museum Professionals Grants program since its inception in 2005. Additional project descriptions for grants that are not represented at the 2010 convening of grantees may be found on the IMLS Web site by accessing the Search Awarded Grants function at http://www.imls.gov/search.asp.