Seven museums or similar entities in Washington State have been awarded over $800,000 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the Museums for America grants program. One museum was awarded funds under the Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums.
Museums for America
The Museums for America (MFA) program supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public.
MFA grants support activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning, as important institutions in the establishment of livable communities, and as good stewards of the nation’s collections.
Each museum award followings under the appropriate grant category..
IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.Projects should provide high-quality, inclusive, accessible, and audience-focused learning opportunities; provide access to collections, information, and educational resources; encourage the use of technologies; and develop programs for specific segments of the public.
Bellevue Botanical Garden Society – Bellevue, WA
Award Amount: $149,600; Matching Amount: $153,716
The Bellevue Botanical Garden will expand and enhance their existing interpretive programs to include a number of new tools. Building upon a previous IMLS-funded project, the garden will produce a new interactive visitor map, install interactive touchscreens in the new visitor orientation room, and develop an application for use on mobile devices. The garden will also design a project evaluation program so the staff can understand and respond to changing visitor interests and demographics over time. Designed to be intuitive and visually engaging, these new tools will pique the visitors’ curiosity and encourage them to be plant explorers and lifelong learners.
Seattle Aquarium Society – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $103,821; Matching Amount: $103,829
The Seattle Aquarium will design, implement, and evaluate an aquarium classroom program, giving middle school students opportunities to experience how science is actually done. The project is designed to increase science and ocean literacy and STEM performance, and improve attitudes towards animal conservation. The museum will develop the program content in cooperation with practicing scientists, emphasizing the process by which scientists arrive at their conclusions. The project will include two introductory science-process inquiry activities and two content modules based on sea otter research conducted at the aquarium and ocean acidification research by a leading government researcher. The project deliverables will also include one kit based on each research module for interpretation in the aquarium galleries; one for community outreach programming; and one each for the outreach activities conducted by the researchers’ labs. The final product will be a set of guidelines for creating a research-based inquiry activity in cooperation with an active scientist.
Pacific Science Center Foundation – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $117,340; Matching Amount: $120,619
Pacific Science Center will implement Exploring Earth System Science, a two-year project designed to increase visitors’ literacy of Earth system science through the delivery of programming on Science On a Sphere, a global display system using computers and video projectors to display planetary data on a six-foot-diameter sphere. Museum staff will develop nine content strands covering topics such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and ocean science, with an emphasis on issues related to climate change. A rapid response framework for presentations about emerging natural disasters will be developed so that staff will be prepared to interpret data when a natural disaster occurs. As a result of the project, staff and volunteers will be prepared to provide an enhanced Science on a Sphere experience for community members who visit the museum.
Burke Museum Association, University of Washington – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $120,557; Matching Amount: $121,201
The University of Washington’s Burke Museum will redesign its website to more effectively serve its visitors and support the museum’s mission, vision, and strategic goals. This project will draw on state-of-the-art user-experience research and proven approaches to design and create a new website that will incorporate visitor-centered technologies that are now commonly used by the news media. The result will be a website inspired by the vision and goals of the museum that meet the needs and expectations of its audience, draws people to the site through their own passions, curiosities, and interests, and more effectively fosters learning.
IMLS promotes museums as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.Projects should harness a museum’s expertise, knowledge, physical space, technology, or other resources in order to address a specific need originating in the community. Museums may undertake the project alone or in partnership with one or more community organizations.
Seattle Art Museum – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $150,000; Matching Amount: $353,316
The Seattle Art Museum will test new strategies in programming, research, and community-building to broaden and deepen participation by young adults ages 18-35. Based on lessons learned from prior research and a pilot engagement project, the museum will integrate social and interactive experiences with artists and community leaders into several traditional programs. The museum will pilot and evaluate a rewards/participation card to help it evaluate young adult participation patterns to better serve and communicate with them. The project will also include an expansion of the museum’s community partners program, which involves cultural/creative/civic partners in using museum events to share their work more broadly. IMLS funds will be used to support key staff; honoraria for the artists involved in programming; and the development of the reward/engagement card. While targeting young adults for increased participation and membership, the program will also benefit the public at large with a dynamic roster of museum experiences and better awareness of the city’s cultural and civic organizations.
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $150,000; Matching Amount: $167,269
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience will produce a newly designed tour program to empower the Asian Pacific American community to share their stories, help stimulate the local economy, and promote the historic and cultural vibrancy of the district. The Chinatown International District, on the National Register of Historic Places, is Seattle’s lowest-income neighborhood, struggling with multiple issues that threaten its preservation. The revision of the tour program will emphasize community storytelling and audience engagement. A volunteer docent program will serve as a starting place for community member involvement, and technology capabilities will be improved to better analyze data and grow audiences. The project will provide staff and volunteer professional development and increase visitorship to the museum and the neighborhood.
IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage. Projects should address high priority collections care or conservation issues.
Note to applicants: The FY2014 Museums for America grant opportunity encompasses those types of proposals that were previously solicited through the Conservation Project Support program. IMLS maintains its commitment to collections care, conservation, and preservation, and encourages step-by-step, progressive approach to conservation.
No museums in Washington State were awarded funds under this category in 2013.
Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums
The Sparks! Ignition Grants for Museums program is a special funding opportunity within the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Museums program, which supports projects that address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to museums. These small grants encourage museums to prototype and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they provide resulting in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices.
Center for Wooden Boats – Seattle, WA
Award Amount: $24,748; Matching Amount: $1,302
The collection, storage, and care of large objects present ongoing challenges for museums of all sizes. The Center for Wooden Boats will test photogrammetry on large collection items, or macro-artifacts, to measure size and monitor changes over time. Changes in dimension can help alert collections managers to the need for active or preventative conservation treatment. The project team will develop, test, and refine a procedure for using photogrammetry to monitor dimensional stability on a variety of watercraft and other maritime macro-artifacts, resulting in procedures that will ultimately be usable in vastly different museum environments and subject areas.