RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be providing even more opportunities for visitors to conduct their own lab experiments and talk with scientists, while also making the Museum more accessible to the visually impaired, thanks to more than $130,000 in federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for two new projects.
The Museum, already praised as a global pioneer in engaging visitors in science, was awarded a $114,187 “Museums for America” grant to expand staffing and to make Museum programs more accessible and audience-focused. Specifically, the grant will allow the Museum to hire a part-time Lab Outreach Coordinator for the Microbiology and Genomics lab, a part-time Educator for its Investigate Labs, and a part-time Curator of Veterinary Services for the Window on Animal Health. The grant will also allow for expanded efforts to bring underserved K-12 students to the Museum. A primary goal of this grant is to learn more about the impact that a higher degree of direct scientist-visitor interaction has on affecting public understanding of, and engagement with, science.
An additional grant of more than $18,000 will allow the Museum to develop a free app for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that will enhance the Museum experience for all visitors including those with visual impairments. Museum staff will collaborate with the North Carolina Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, and SAS on the development of this pilot project. The app will contain an accessible map of the Museum and innovative features that allow visitors of all abilities to plan their visit to the Museum before they arrive. The interdisciplinary team will also explore additional features to increase visitor interactivity with exhibits both while at the Museum and after they leave. SAS’ contributions to this project are being provided at no cost.
Museum Curator of Special Populations Liani Yirka will travel to Washington, DC, for a ceremony on September 18, to be recognized for the award. The event will showcase the many ways museums support learning experiences, serve as community anchors, and are stewards of cultural and scientific heritage through the preservation of their collections.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Museums for America is the Institute's largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums' capacity to serve their communities.