The success of the Campaign for the Museum of Science has positioned the institution to build on its strengths as one of the world’s leading centers for interactive exhibits, STEM education programs, and K – 12 engineering curricula. In short, the Museum of Science is ready for a new decade of growth and innovation.
The Museum of Science has developed a Long-Range Plan that sets a bold course for the institution to become the leading science center worldwide in expanding the public’s access to, understanding of, and critical thinking around engineering, technology, and the sciences.
The origin story for the Museum of Science begins in 1830—some 29 years before Charles Darwin published his Origin of the Species—and our institution has been evolving and innovating since day one. Our new Long-Range Plan is the next step in the evolution of the Museum of Science.
In January 2014, the Museum began the process of collecting input from multiple constituencies in the community, including, trustees and museum advisors, staff, the Volunteer Service League, members and visitors (children and adults), civic leaders and leaders at peer institutions, and teachers who bring their students to the Museum and who also participate in professional development workshops offered by the Museum.
The goal was to develop a 10-year arc of institutional visions, themes, and goals, with an actionable implementation plan for the first five years. In all, more than 900 people shared their ideas as the sketch of a plan began to form. In December 2014, a first draft was completed and reviewed by the Board. A new draft—more granular in detail—was produced and the final Long-Range Plan was approved by the Board at the Museum’s annual meeting in June 2015.
In the process of developing our Long-Range Plan, we learned a great deal about our institution. We learned that we need to continue to invest in our longstanding strengths—exhibits and programs for kids and adults—while at the same time investing in the new strengths that have emerged at the Museum in recent years—our curriculum development and STEM-learning programs.
With levels of support reaching new heights during the Campaign for the Museum of Science—which concluded in June 2015 with $288 million in new gifts and pledges—the institution is perfectly positioned to take on a new set of initiatives that will build upon our standing in the region and on our growing international reputation. There is no better time, I am certain, for the Museum of Science to launch its vision for the next ten years.
Our objective is to build on the energy and momentum we’ve generated during the Campaign years. We seek to fund innovation in our Exhibit Halls and in our classroom curricula products, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to preserve and enhance our iconic campus. As worldwide interest mounts for high-quality STEM education, we remain dedicated to our mission: to transform the nation’s relationship with science and technology.
Ioannis N. Miaoulis, PhD
President and Director
What follows below is an overview of the five institutional goals that comprise the Museum’s Long-Range Plan.
Through continued enhancements to our physical spaces and improvements to a developing menu of virtual experiences, the Museum of Science will remove the barriers of cost, culture, and distance that prevent or discourage some from engaging with the institution. In this way, the Museum will serve as a primary source of information on engineering, technology, and the sciences.
At the core of the Museum’s mission is the belief that everyone has a role in science and technology—as learners, future scientists or engineers, citizens and community leaders, members of the workforce, consumers, and stewards of our planet. Ensuring gender equality and relevance, including expanding a leadership role in engaging girls and diverse populations in the STEM fields, remain top priorities, as does providing access, equity, and relevance to communities of color, people with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged.
The Museum’s work related to universal design, which has garnered recognition from the White House, has set a new standard for exhibition design at peer institutions including the Franklin Institute, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
The Museum will continue to deepen relationships with content partners at leading universities and other organizations who bring their latest research and breakthroughs into our exhibit halls and program spaces. The Hall of Human Life benefited from a network of 130 content advisors who shared their expertise with our exhibit development team.
Our recent collaboration with Pixar Studios is another example of how the institution will develop content over the next ten years. The tech and creative teams at Pixar were amazing collaborators, providing resources and real-world computational science experience that made The Science Behind Pixar a STEM blockbuster exhibition.
Such partnerships and collaborations present unique opportunities for growth, especially through the use of enhanced digital technology and programming. The Museum will cultivate partnerships with universities and corporations to develop collaborative educational outreach, online learning experiences, and public engagement opportunities.
“What’s great about science and engineering is that they change continually, and the Museum needs to keep pace with that change. We need to continually create and build new exhibits that bring to life issues like environmental sustainability and nutrition as we update and maintain the interactive exhibits and fun programs that have defined the Museum of Science for so many generations. We need to offer the cutting-edge experiences that visitors have come to expect from a leading-edge science museum—experiences that are iconic and relevant, that are social and dynamic and that are authentic.”
—Christine Bellon | Chair, Board of Museum Advisors
The Museum of Science excels at creating learning experiences where visitors practice STEM habits of mind and learn how to think like scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and innovators. The educator-led Design Challenges program is just one example. Building upon our success, we will deepen visitor engagement by enhancing facilitated interactions throughout our exhibit halls.
At the same time, we want to offer more self-directed digital interactive experiences for our visitors. That includes new ways for them to engage with our content via smartphones and tablets during visits, but also before and after they come to the Museum. And we want to deliver more live animal experiences, including new wildlife components within the Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River and in the Butterfly Garden. As one of only two science centers in the country with accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we want to expand visitor access and interaction with our live animal collection.
Thanks to a recent $75,000 planning grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Museum had an opportunity to undertake a thorough assessment of the investment required to redesign exhibition and programming spaces in the Blue Wing. Over the next ten years the Museum will transform the Blue Wing—physically and intellectually. We want to deepen visitor engagement through large scale and immersive experiences. Preliminary planning is underway for a full renovation of the three-floor core of our exhibition experience. Essentially, we want to apply the state-of-the-art quality of the Hall of Human Life and the Yawkey Gallery—plus everything we learned developing The Science Behind Pixar—to a transformation of the Blue Wing.
“A reimagined Blue Wing will strengthen STEM habits of mind as visitors explore content related to the natural and engineered worlds,” says Christine Reich, director of exhibit development and conservation. “The transformed wing will prepare individuals to address the challenges of today and tomorrow by bolstering their ability to create solutions, investigate questions, and imagine possible worlds. New exhibitions and programming spaces will engage visitors by addressing content relevant to the 21st century—big data, food systems, climate change—and reinvigorating timeless favorites—dinosaurs, space exploration, electricity, and more.”
“The only time I ever skipped school was to go to the grand opening of the Mugar Omni Theater. It was 1987 and I was 14. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Museum of Science, and the ribbon they used was from a spool of IMAX film. I still have a clipping of that film. The Museum of Science was a constant presence throughout my school years—even when I was at Boston University, studying computer science. Now I’m a dad. My wife Kayte and I have a two-year-old named Quinn. It’s exciting for me to let my son explore the Museum and see what he gets excited about.”
—Adam Bellusci | Young Leadership Committee
The Museum of Science is often brimming with young children, school groups, and families. But science, technology, engineering, and math are relevant to everyone, not just students interested in pursuing STEM careers. No matter what your age, you can always learn something new at the Museum of Science.
The Museum strives to provide an experience relevant to everyone in the community—among all age groups and across the cultural spectrum. We want to deepen the experience that parents have with their children at the Museum, so they can engage more fully with their children about what they’re learning. We want to engage teens and our audience of young adults through Museum-based programs and online interactions. We want to involve adults by featuring exhibits, programs, and speakers that focus on current topics and scientific issues impacting society.
The Museum has offered a number of one-of-a-kind exhibits and programs geared to adult visitors featuring people like Chef Ferran Adrià, Nathan Myhrvold, the MythBusters, scientists from NASA, and experts from around the world to talk about their work on the Dead Sea Scrolls and in Pompeii.
In addition, we have developed inventive ways to deliver learning experiences that parents and caregivers can share with their children. For example, we have paired Design Challenges —a highly interactive space for young visitors to learn about the engineering design process—with an exhibit called Innovative Engineers, located right next to Design Challenges. Parents can learn about the work of innovative engineers while their children participate in a hands-on engineering activity.
In 2004, the Museum’s National Center for Technological Literacy®—NCTL®—was reaching eight teachers and 200 students—all in Massachusetts. Today, the NCTL has curricula adopted in all 50 states and is collaborating with educators in more than a dozen countries. We’ve reached more than 90,000 teachers and more than 9 million students.
Over the next 10 years, the Museum will leverage the power of the NCTL to raise the profile of the Museum’s curricula worldwide. “We want to expand on the success of our Engineering is Elementary®—EiE®—brand,” says Christine Cunningham, PhD, Museum vice president and director of EiE. “We will continue to develop new products and new curricula. For example, EiE is already designed to work well with English Language Learners and students with special educational needs, but we will add to and enhance the elements in the curriculum that support ELL instruction—to reach the growing market of English-Language Learners.”
The NCTL is developing ideas for an exhibit at the Museum based on EiE, an exhibit that could potentially be marketed to other science centers around the world. In addition, initial explorations have begun in two new curriculum subject areas:
The Museum wants to offer more opportunities for teacher professional development. Our workshops are very popular and well-attended at the Museum and on-line. And we have heard from teachers that they want more. Oracle and Raytheon have funded scholarship programs to make EiE professional development for teachers more widely available. With support from Cognizant, the Museum has been developing a library of short EiE videos that are educational resources for teachers across the country as they bring hands-on engineering to their classrooms
“Over the past four years, Raytheon has invested $2 million in jumpstarting the use of EiE in high-needs areas nationwide,” says am Erickson, vice president of corporate Affairs at Raytheon. “In Washington, DC schools, Raytheon targeted scholarships and an initiative to make EiE professional development for teachers more widely available. In part because of this support from Raytheon, EiE is now being implemented district wide in all 75 DC elementary schools and will reach 22,000 students this coming year. “
The Museum of Science is fortunate to have a community of dedicated supporters—corporations, foundations, and families—that have made the Museum of Science a priority of their philanthropy for decades. Their sustained support of our mission, particularly during the Campaign years, has made the Museum a vital, world-class institution.
We will continue to build on this strong base of support as we seek out the next generation of leaders and donors who will help to steward the Museum of Science over the next decade and beyond. We will continue to invest in our campus. In addition to the Blue Wing transformation, we will rejuvenate the front of our building and make improvements to Nichols Gallery, our largest space for temporary exhibits.
The Museum recognizes the need to develop new sources of revenue to fund our mission and help us to achieve our goals. With a track record for developing blockbuster exhibits like The Science Behind Pixar, producing award-winning planetarium shows like Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun, and playing a leadership role in K – 12 engineering curricula, the Museum has found income opportunities based on our core educational activities—state-of-the-art exhibitry, immersive educational programming, and curriculum development.
With our core activities becoming revenue generators, we plan to create a team dedicated to licensing Museum intellectual properties to science centers and schools throughout the U.S. and around the world. In past years this has been accomplished through the part-time efforts of senior management. Going forward the Museum plans a more entrepreneurial approach to marketing our intellectual properties to fund operations and growth.
We will focus on developing an endowment strategy to support the creation of new exhibits and programming. We will ensure continued financial viability with a long-term objective to grow the endowment up to five times the Museum’s annual operating budget.
“I hope everyone in the community shares my excitement about the goals that we have set for our Museum of Science over the next decade—and in particular the next five years. We are committed to making a great institution even better. As a non-profit enterprise, the Museum has consistently achieved financial balance from membership and visitation, private philanthropy, and support from corporations, foundations, and government grants. In recent years we have seen new dividends from our investment in innovation in the area of engineering curriculum and original educational content. Our Long-Range Plan provides a vision for our institution to sustain its position among the top-tiered science centers in the world. We welcome you to be a part of this bright future and join us in supporting the Museum of Science.”
—Gwill York | Chair, Board of Trustees
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