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Games for Change will partner with eight museums to create replicable approaches for integrating game design and civic engagement into museum education programs. The project will be based on the methods and materials tested and applied through the national Games for Change Student Challenge. The project will begin with an initial planning year. In this stage, an advisory group of museum educators and experts in digital media and learning will work with museums in two cities to pilot the integration of the game-design into museum education programs. Following evaluation and revision of that pilot, the program will expand to two additional cities. In each city, five museum educators and teaching artists will learn the game design curriculum and how to lead a social impact game design course in their institution or with school partners. The museums will present workshops and game jams and host a citywide challenge as a culminating event in each city.
The Brown University Herbarium will partner with the Brown University Library to plan and develop the prototype of a tool to help the public access digitized herbarium specimens in more meaningful ways. The planning process will begin with background research to identify best practices for collections interfaces and existing efforts to incorporate herbarium collections into biology education. The project team will organize a meeting of herbarium professionals, museum education specialists, biology instructors, data visualization experts and designers/administrators of existing search interfaces. This group of diverse professionals will provide information and perspectives on using digitized images and collections interfaces to serve non-expert audiences. The project will result in a user interface specification, which will define how the application will look and how users will interact with it, and an implementation specification, defining how the application will work and be built.
The Ashé Cultural Arts Center will conduct research on the role small museums and community-based archives play in the welfare of their communities, the value they bring to the local cultural economy, and potential models for their financial sustainability. In partnership with external consultants and the Southern University at New Orleans, the project team will conduct data analysis of the local cultural heritage funding landscape, and facilitate a discovery and design workshop and interviews with practitioners to identify both successful strategies and barriers to financial sustainability. The project focuses on organizations preserving the histories and culture of marginalized people to identify the ways in which they contribute to community health and vitality, resulting in a model for research that observes national funding trends and defines a process for translating national data to useful local data.
The Tucson Museum of Art will develop an adaptable framework and toolkit to support museums in becoming responsive, community-centered spaces. The project will create a collaborative model and toolkit to transform traditional scholarly interpretation to incorporate perspectives from outside museum expertise. The project will begin with an evaluation and conservation assessment of the museum's collections. Museum staff and volunteers will participate in programs and trainings to support the development of culturally responsive approaches to gallery-based instruction, curatorial practices, and programming. The staff will pilot collaborative changes in curatorial approach, develop new programs, and implement new forms of interpretation followed by a reinstallation of the collection. Success will be marked by increased collaboration across departments and the inclusion of multiple voices and diverse expertise within collection assessment, interpretative strategies, as well as exhibition and program development.
PA Museums will partner with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and experts in accessibility to design and implement a methodology and toolkit to help museums improve accessibility for traditionally marginalized communities. The project will go beyond ADA accommodation to tackle the unconscious bias that creates and reinforces systemic barriers to access at all levels of museum operations. Following an initial research and development phase, 20 museums will pilot and evaluate the program. The project team will analyze data from the testing phase and refine the program for sharing with the museum community. The accessibility toolkit will be disseminated through webinars, articles, social media, and presentations at professional conferences. The tools will allow museums to establish their own accessibility baselines, meet national standards for museum access, and foster systemic cultural change in their organizations.
The Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) will expand and enhance Connecting to Collections Care, a community of practice that provides information, training, and support for individuals charged with the care of collections. Based on user feedback, FAIC will pilot new features that will continue to target small to mid-sized collecting institutions with limited professional development budgets. Activities will include the creation of hybrid courses with online and in-person components in partnership with regional museum associations. FAIC will also collaborate with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums to offer in-person workshops on collections care topics for Tribal collecting institutions. Additional activities include improved online public forums, expanded webinar topics, six new online courses, and improved search mechanisms for use with the program's archives of webinars and courses.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will partner with New York University's Ability Project to increase the capacity of historic sites to develop rich, sensory-based interpretive experiences that are accessible to visitors with disabilities. The museum will establish a core working group of eight local individuals with disabilities and eight professionals representing historic sites across the United States. The working group will identify accessibility challenges, field test proposed solutions, and periodically convene to review, evaluate and provide recommendations. Other activities will include the development of a graduate-level course at NYU and an exhibition at the museum about the project. The project will produce a digital publication titled Sensory Tools for Interpreting Historic Sites that will offer strategies for increasing visitor engagement through interpretation that is accessible for visitors with disabilities and achievable by historic sites of all sizes.
The Chicago Botanic Garden will apply the zoo community's approach to managing captive animals to the conservation of threatened plant species. The methodology is intended to provide protocols for managing living collections of threatened plants across multiple institutions to maintain maximum genetic diversity and ensure their chances for long-term survival. Through partnerships with the Brookfield Zoo, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Montgomery Botanical Center, and Atlanta Botanical Garden, the project team will build and test digital infrastructure using six carefully chosen plant species that cannot be seed-banked. Once developed and evaluated, the team will disseminate the software and approach through professional conferences, publications, and by developing a user manual. The user manual will outline how to apply this approach to other plant species, as well as providing a guide to using the approach to help with species prioritization.
The Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) will provide training and resources to assist up to 15 Native communities with planning for cultural facilities. Working with planners, architects, designers, and other experts, ATALM will provide web-based and in-person training on the various phases of strategic planning and building cultural facilities; consultations with professional experts; and access to design plans that can be tailored to the needs of individual communities. The team will also facilitate access to case-studies and related resources and materials and site visits to recently constructed cultural facilities. The project will result in freely available resources, new tools, research findings, services, and models that may be widely used, adapted, scaled, and replicated by Native and non-Native communities.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will partner with North Carolina State University to improve the evaluation skills of informal science education providers. The project team will create a community of practice for 54 science museums across North Carolina by implementing a series of regional professional development workshops. The workshops will be designed to create a shared sense of purpose for programming and evaluation, build capacity among science museum educators to evaluate their programs, and establish a set of common metrics and methodologies for the evaluation of informal science learning across the state. The project will produce a practitioner's guide that will describe the collaborative process, lessons learned, and ways other informal science organizations can use identified evaluation goals and metrics.
The Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University will develop, launch, and manage an online mentoring network for museum professionals. The initiative will leverage the institute's experience in developing leadership programs, its alumni network, and the resources created through "Nexus: Leading Across Boundaries," a project previously funded by IMLS. Project components will include the development of an online mentoring platform with a variety of resources. Participants can post their profiles on the platform and find a matching mentor through a self-selecting process. The institute will offer six online mentor training webinars for museum professionals with at least seven years of experience. It will also facilitate three annual mentoring cycles that will include recruitment for mentors/mentees, mentor training webinars, quarterly newsletters, leadership development resources, and year-end evaluations and action plans. The project will also include two regional summits to explore best practices in inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.
The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) will enhance its EcoFlora Project and work with four other botanical gardens to implement the model in their communities. The EcoFlora Project uses digital herbarium and library collections and Geographic Information Systems technology, combined with citizen scientist observations, to build an electronic resource to document and monitor a city's plants while engaging the public in studying biodiversity in their own neighborhoods, and informing land use and conservation decisions. Each partner garden will create its own project platform and recruit citizen scientists. NYBG will expand its EcoFlora in more neighborhoods to maximize the diversity of citizen scientist participants, and create a toolkit for local teachers to use with students. NYGB and the partner gardens will share project experiences at national conferences and create online materials to serve as a guideline for other gardens.
Zoo Atlanta will investigate the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease in gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos using the investigative tools of pathology. The work will advance the research compiled through the IMLS-funded Great Ape Heart Project by utilizing the project database and new digital tools to compare clinical and pathologic data to determine which diagnostic tests are most predictive of heart disease. The research team, including a pathology-dedicated postdoctoral fellow and veterinary students, will also assess apes for hypertension and atherosclerosis, and investigate potential causes for fatal aneurysms. The project will answer fundamental questions about the development of cardiovascular disease in apes, while training a new generation of zoo professionals. The results will enable the nation's zoos to better prevent and treat disease and enhance stewardship of these endangered living collections.
The Children's Museum of Tacoma will develop and disseminate an evaluation tool that enables museums to measure the impact their programming on military families. The museum will work with a variety of partner organizations, including FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research, and the Army Analytics Group, to adapt two existing frameworks for use by museums. The project partners will test iterations of the tool, which will be informed by focus groups with military families. The museum will disseminate project resources to support the evaluation of programming tailored for military families by launching a web page with explanatory information, downloadable content, and a recorded webinar. The museum and its project partners will share project results through presentations at national conferences.
The Association of Children's Museums (ACM) will strengthen the capacity of children's museums to draw on shared data to more effectively analyze their operations by using forward-looking data to predict how they may need to manage for the future. ACM will overlay its previously gathered longitudinal data with other available datasets and research that will help illuminate and forecast new trends affecting the sector. Project activities will include developing online data analytics tools that allow children's museum users to generate standardized institution reports; the publication of 18-24 Trends Reports; and hosting three discussion forums with museum professionals to explore critical data and research impacting the field. The project can serve other museum sectors as a model that integrates attendance and fundraising data with visitor studies data and national public datasets to advance predictive modeling and performance measures.