A focus of the grant will be revising the museum’s interpreter training program for Earlham student tour guides. (Photo taken pre-COVID-19)
Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College awarded national grant to enhance community programs
September 30, 2020
Editor's note: This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MA-245675-OMS-20).They are the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Their grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.
Community education programs will be getting a significant boost at the Joseph Moore Museum at Earlham College. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency, has awarded the Joseph Moore Museum a grant worth nearly $250,000 to enhance its most requested programs for the public.
The three-year Museums for America grant will support more than 12,000 hours of paid experiential learning opportunities for Earlham students, the appointment of a full-time lead museum educator, and the hiring a part-time administrative assistant to coordinate the project. Revising the museum’s interpreter training program for student tour guides is a focus of the grant, notes Heather Lerner, associate professor of biology and the director of the Joseph Moore Museum.
“This is a game-changing opportunity for our students and the visitors that the museum attracts to campus every year,” Lerner said. “The improvements we will undertake will improve learning outcomes for our visitors while also building the professional skills of our students. Continuous evaluation throughout the project will measure effectiveness in both aspects, allowing us to change tactics in real time to better meet the needs of our visitors and college students."
Students who work in the museum come from every academic division on campus, with the current staff representing 18 majors. Graduates of the program go on to enjoy a wide variety of careers, from positions in museums, zoos and aquariums such as exhibit designers, curators, animal handlers, program developers, and administrators to graduate school students, to environmental consultants and more. The network of Joseph Moore Museum alumni covers the nation with representatives in many major museums, such as the National Museum of Natural History, the Boston Museum of Science, and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.
As a result of the grant, students will also be able to complete certification curriculum from the National Association for Interpretation and become Certified Interpretive Guides during annual trainings offered over the next three years. Previously, certification has only been offered every other year on campus, Lerner notes. Student training will also now incorporate a professional learning program based on the science of learning in informal environments, called Reflecting on Practice.
“We will now be able to better prepare our undergraduate educators to teach confidently and update our programs to be more learner-centered experiences using current best practices in informal education,” Lerner said.
The Joseph Moore Museum is a hub for teaching, learning and research on campus. The museum offers more than 10 different tours, scavenger hunts, escape games and other educational programs, many of which are free and open to the public. Some of the museum’s signature attractions include an Egyptian mummy, fossilized skeletons of a mastodon and giant beaver and specimens of other now extinct species, such as the passenger pigeon. Live reptiles and amphibians are on display and a planetarium is also available to visitors.
The museum’s extensive collection is comprised of more than 60,000 specimens representing the biodiversity of Indiana – and beyond. Joseph Moore Museum houses more than a third of all bird specimens ever collected in Indiana, according to digital records accessed via Vertnet, iDigBio and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
For more information about the museum, visit earlham.edu/jmm.
Brian Zimmerman, director of media relations