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The Power of Digital: New Initiative to Expand Museums’ Capacity to Share Their Collections with K-12 Educators
IMLS, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Field Museum, History Colorado to Collaborate
Washington, DC— The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the launch of a new special initiative focused on building the museum field’s capacity to connect with teachers and students. Museums for Digital Learning is a two-year cooperative agreement that enables museums to broadly share their digitized collections and other resources with K-12 schools across the country.
The project aims to build a suite of innovative digital resources with content spanning STEM, history, arts, culture, and the humanities, providing a broad spectrum of free, easy-to-access, adaptable resources for teachers across disciplines. IMLS envisions all types of museums—art museums, children’s museums, botanical gardens, history museums, science museums, zoos, aquaria, and more—will be able to contribute their content to the pilot platform.
“With Museums for Digital Learning, IMLS will empower the entire museum sector to strategize and leverage their unique collections-based digital resources creatively and collaboratively to meet the evolving needs of today’s educators and digital learners,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of the IMLS Office of Museum Services.
The pilot initiative, funded through an IMLS National Leadership Grant for Museums, will be led by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, in collaboration with the Field Museum in Chicago, Denver-based History Colorado, and a technical consultant. A team of K-12 teachers will co-create the educational resources using standardized templates, then test the content in their classrooms. A cohort of up to ten additional museums of various sizes, disciplines, and geographic locations will also test and validate both the platform and the educational resources.
“Newfields is an institution that understands the significance of its own collections,” said Stuart Alter, Director of Technology at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. “Newfields Lab will bring its innovative approach to the development of a pioneering digital platform by which myriad museum collections, and the inimitable knowledge based on those collections, would be readily integrated into an ever-increasing offering of digitally-based curricula.”
“A number of organizations have already taken steps to address the growing need for digital resources in the K-12 educational system. Museums are also individually providing solutions, but current efforts are still fragmented, and there’s tremendous opportunity to more effectively engage today’s learners,” said Gangopadhyay. “Collections, whether they are from a small, medium, or large museum, have the power of providing contextual hooks that can spur students’ interest in learning and applying new knowledge in real-world situations. This initiative will help to generate the powerful shared outcomes and collective impact we as a sector have the potential to create.”
Museums for Digital Learning is closely aligned with IMLS’s strategic goals to promote lifelong learning, increase access to information, ideas, and networks, and build capacity in the museum and library fields. For more information, please visit www.imls.gov.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
The mission of Newfields is to provide exceptional experiences to enrich lives through engagement with nature and the arts. Newfields core values are stewardship, service, and excellence. Newfields serves diverse audiences with quality artistic experiences through distinctive exhibitions, engaging educational and public programming, innovative digital content, and the collection and care of a permanent collection of more than 54,000 objects and 152 acres of Park and Gardens on its Newfields campus. For more information visit www.DiscoverNewfields.org.