Connecticut

As of fall 2016, the Bellarmine Museum, which comprises exhibition and permanent collection galleries in Bellarmine Hall and the Walsh Gallery for Special Exhibitions in the Quick Center, is the Fairfield University Art Museum.  The museum is a valuable cultural resource on campus and in the surrounding community.  In relation to a new name, the museum also presents a newly re-designed website where you can easily learn about upcoming exhibitions and events.

The Gunn Historical Museum is the recipient of The Michael Kammen Award, a prestigious national award with a $5,000 prize, from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The award was granted for the 2014 exhibit "Over There: Washington and the Great War". The Leadership in History Awards Committee and Emeritus Council present the Kammen Award at their discretion to a history organization, with an annual budget under $250,000, which has shown outstanding effort. The Gunn Historical Museum accepted the award, along with a Leadership in History Award, at the AASLH Annual Conference.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced a one-year planning grant of $49,530 to the Florence Griswold Museum (FGM). With this funding, the museum will design a prototype of an online learning portal—called See that will help equip Connecticut elementary educators to teach with new innovation about state history by tapping /Change—into FGM’s content-rich collections of American art. This exciting project was developed by Director of Education and Outreach David Rau, who will oversee the project’s planning phase. “Teachers now must challenge their students to think much more critically, and museums can play a vital role in supporting those efforts by connecting teachers to our collections, showing them how they can use art to spark learning on a whole host of relevant subjects. We believe See/Change has potential to become a national model in the field,” said Director Jeff Andersen.

Mystic Seaport announces it has received a $1 million gift from the Thompson Family Foundation to support the Thompson Exhibition Building. This is the museum’s first new exhibition building in more than four decades and it opened to visitors on September 24, 2016. The Thompson Building is the cornerstone and final element of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle, a project which integrated existing buildings and grounds with new construction and unified the buildings of the north end of the museum by focusing on their common role as formal exhibition galleries.

Maine

Thanks to the preservation and installation support of the Kohler Foundation, the “Caged Lion” by Bernard Langlais has come to the lawn of L.C. Bates Museum. The Maine artist’s sculptures are made from collected, recycled, and found pieces of wood. “Caged Lion” is a 12 ft. tall wooden sculpture completed in 1976-77 and recently preserved by conservator Ron Harvey. Visitors may see the “Lion” along the Langlais Art Trail when they visit the museum.


Maine Maritime Museum's new gallery space.


Maine Maritime Museum
will break ground on construction of a new gallery space that will house an immersive lighthouse exhibit, Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience. Opening in summer 2017, the exhibit will house the second-order Fresnel lens that that once guided ships into Portland, Maine, from the east Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse tower (formerly Two Lights). Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience will be the first exhibit of its kind to include a 180-degree media projection system with time-lapse videography of the active panorama of the Gulf of Maine, simulating the experience of standing in the lantern. “We want to replicate that experience for all the people who know and love this famous lighthouse, but will never otherwise be able to appreciate it in that way,” said Executive Director Amy Lent. A capital campaign is underway to raise the $980,000 needed for design, construction, and installation of the permanent exhibit with nearly 80 percent of the goal raised so far.

After delighting and educating thousands of Mainers for the past 46 years, the historic complex known as 19th Century Willowbrook Village in Newfield closed for good Oct. 10. But much of its 5,000-piece collection – displayed in some 20 buildings on a rural, 7-acre site – will continue to be accessible to future generations. A large portion of Willowbrook’s collection is being donated to Curran Homestead, a living-history farm and museum in Orrington, near Bangor. Curran Homestead’s board is hoping to use the donation to expand its property over the next three to five years, transforming it into a hands-on history village comparable to Willowbrook, treasurer Irv Marsters said Wednesday. Curran Homestead currently has eight buildings on 75 acres and has been open to the public for 25 years. When Willowbrook’s management began publicly announcing the closing in late summer, citing a lack of money, it issued a news release that said the collection would be offered to several Maine groups, including Curran Homestead, Boothbay Railway Village and Skyline Farm in North Yarmouth. But Wednesday, Willowbrook director Robert Schmick said in a written statement that “the bulk of the collection,” including Willowbrook’s 1894 Armitage-Herschell carousel, would be donated to Curran Homestead. Skyline Farm will also give new life to as much of Willowbrook’s collections as possible. In order to improve their visitor experiences, Skyline Farm asked for four major existing exhibits to create a working educational trade center: a blacksmith shop, wheelwright workshop, leather harness/saddle shop and, returning to North Yarmouth, the Norman Reed farrier shop. Skyline plans to create classes in all four shops. Skyline will also receive items to complement their existing collections.

Massachusetts

The Boston Children’s Museum recently received an Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) for its Native Voices: New England Tribal Families exhibit supporting a three-year tour. This tour will feature new interactive elements in the already popular exhibit, as well as new materials that will help host museums engage with their local Native communities and develop cross-cultural partnerships that can extend beyond the tour. The exhibit showcases and contextualizes Boston Children’s Museum’s distinguished Native American collection and builds on the museum’s decades of collaboration with tribal communities and scholars to present authentic perspectives.


Brewster Historical Society's Captain Elijah Cobb House

In 2014, the small, all-volunteer, Brewster Historical Society launched a major capital campaign to purchase and renovate/restore the circa 1799 Captain Elijah Cobb House. After receiving Community Preservation Act, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and other private foundation grants plus community-wide support in over 1000 private donations, the society has finally purchased and restored the property. For fifty years, the society has been squatting in borrowed space around town. Their goal is to use the house as a museum and offices, finally opening a sea captain’s home in the Sea Captains Town (Brewster, MA) to the general public. The museum is now open to the public as of August 2016.

The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to assist in planning the reinterpretation and reinstallation of its permanent exhibition on Gloucester’s offshore fishing industry during the heyday of sail (1840–1930). The museum is fortunate to have one of the region’s most extensive and comprehensive collections of objects related to New England’s fishing industry of the second half of the 19th century. The Cape Ann Museum’s success in securing funding speaks to the compelling nature of the story it has to tell and the organization’s ability to share that story with the public. 

The Fitchburg Historical Society is busy planning its 125th anniversary year, which began on October 1 with a social media campaign on Fitchburg history called #125DaysOfHistory. The media campaign will last for 125 days, culminating with the Historical Society’s actual anniversary, February 3rd, 2017. The Fitchburg Historical Society is also proud to have received a Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF) planning grant to update its Master Plan for the development and renovation of the remaining floors of its new Main Street headquarters in the H.M. Francis-designed Phoenix Building. A generous gift in support of the grant match has been received from Historic New England. In addition, the Historical Society has received funding for the 2016-17 program, Fitchburg Immigrant Experience Online, from Mass Humanities. The Fitchburg Historical Society is also in the midst of a collaboration with local senior resources to create a regular quarterly Memory Café program for those with dementia and memory loss, focusing on the Historical Society’s collection of photographs and films from the mid-20th century.

The Nantucket Historical Association has received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to care for its historic clothing and textile collections. The grant is from the highly competitive Museums for America grant program. NHA has announced a restructuring of its Collections and Resources department. The NHA cares for extensive collections, including (by definition) its many properties. Be it baleen or buildings, these holdings provide the essential foundations for the island’s stories. The NHA is fortunate to have many dedicated staff members who assist in collecting, preserving, and preparing these stories in ways ranging from publications to talks; exhibits to programs. The NHA maintenance staff cares for the historic buildings and grounds; the library staff safeguards our books, archives, and manuscripts; the Robyn and John Davis Chief Curator and collection staff, interns, and volunteers care for the extensive artifact collections; and the Obed Macy Research Chair is, in fact, the NHA historian. Together, and in concert with the Department of Visitor Experience, these resources provide the invaluable underpinning required to enable the organization to offer consistent, memorable, and transformative experiences. In order to consolidate these numerous “museum resources” the NHA is assembling some of its various units within one new department, the Department of Museum Resources.

Norman Rockwell Museum announces that it received a $1.5 million grant from the George Lucas Family Foundation to strengthen the museum’s Digital Learning and Engagement Division. The grant will enable the museum to create a range of robust multi-media experiences for visitors on site and online as well as for the museum’s traveling exhibitions. These will include a digital gallery-tour, using virtual and augmented reality technologies also accessible from mobile devices; an online curriculum-collaborative; a new K–12 curriculum; a national social-media campaign targeting young people; and a comprehensive online media hub encompassing podcasts, interviews, lectures, student galleries, and more. The new digital and interactive tools will become essential educational resources that will enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Rockwell Museum’s permanent collection and special exhibitions, as well as the art of illustration.

The Museum of Science announce a $50 million gift from Michael Bloomberg. The $50 million gift provides an endowment for the support of the museum’s Education Division to be named the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Science Education Center in honor of his parents. It also provides funds to research, design, develop, pilot-test, and disseminate computational thinking/computer science curriculum and activities, as well as funds to develop and produce high-quality food-science initiatives. This is the largest single gift in the museum’s history.

The Museum of Science announced completion of a lobby renovation that was funded by a $2.5 million gift made two years ago by Cummings Properties, but which was not disclosed until recently.  To recognize the gift, Museum of Science, Boston has renamed the space the Cummings Concourse, which displays a plaque that notes the space is “Dedicated in honor and recognition of the entire staff of Cummings Properties."

The Old North Foundation recently announced the successful summer launch of Prince’s Prowl, an object-based interactive game for mobile devices designed to encourage intergenerational learning in a fun and quirky way at the Old North Church & Historic Site. Prince the cat, a North End neighborhood celebrity and widely photographed feline (#wheresprince), plays virtual host as he takes visitors on the hunt for treasures inside the historic church. Prince’s Prowl focuses on unique objects often overlooked by visitors and purposefully excludes any mention of Paul Revere’s ride in order to demonstrate the interesting hidden stories in items like foot warmers, flags, and 17th century Baroque wooden angels. The challenges include multiple choice questions, photos and selfies, and creative open answer.

The Old North Foundation received its second $10,000 grant from Mars, Inc. to support Captain Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop, a living history and retail space located on the campus of the Old North Church & Historic Site. Funds supported the completion of the third and final classroom lesson plan for 3rd-5th grades as part of Old North's chocolate outreach programs, which connect colonial chocolate making with the Massachusetts Frameworks on history and social studies. Funds also covered the costs of providing the programs free of charge to twenty classrooms in Boston. The Foundation is also developing new interior exhibit signage for Captain Jackson's and new public programming geared toward adults. Several staff members will present at this year's Colonial Chocolate Society conference in Morristown, NJ. 

Edwin Dickinson is synonymous with the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. As a founding member, officer, juror, and exhibiting artist, his legacy spans a century resulting in a significant body of work which reflects the differing styles created in response to the changing art world. In 2007, the museum opened the Edwin Dickinson in Provincetown: 1912-1937 exhibit. One of the lenders to this exhibit was Daniel Dietrich II, an important collector from Philadelphia. In 2015, Dan passed away and through a non-traditional process three institutions vied for 24 oil paintings by Dickinson. The result was seven paintings joining the PAAM’s collections. The museum is grateful to Dan Dietrich and his executor, Frank Cooper. This gift not only strengthens their Dickinson holdings, but speaks to the credibility of this organization and their responsibility to carefully preserve the legacy of the oldest continuous art colony in America.

The Springfield Museums have been formally accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term, high-quality partnerships with museums and educational organizations in order to share collections, exhibitions, learning opportunities and research expertise. The partnership has been made possible through the generous support of the MassMutual Foundation, which is providing a three-year, $145,000-plus grant to bring a wealth of resources and programming to Springfield, starting with the first-ever “Smithsonian Week in Springfield” (September 17 – 24). Given the diverse multi-disciplinary nature of their art, history, and science collections, the Springfield Museums are natural choice to become a Smithsonian Affiliate.

The Westford Museum received a $5000 Mass Humanities Grant for the design and development of two exhibits - Westford Academy and the Founding of Westford.

A bill that proposes to maintain the Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center by conveying about 5.2 acres on which it sits to the nonprofit is on the verge of becoming a law. The museum, a former state police barracks built in 1931, is located at 44 Worcester St. The legislation reached Gov. Charles D. Baker's desk for his signature, according to state Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, and state Rep. David K. Muradian, Jr., R-Grafton, who filed the bill. The conveyance would be from the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, in consultation with state police, according to the bill. The effort aims to secure ownership as a permanent home for the museum, Mr. Moore and Mr. Muradian said in a statement. The bill received unanimous support in the House and Senate. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means ushered it through on Aug. 18.

LAB 102, a space dedicated to community engagement and programs that promote curiosity, innovation, and invention, opened November 8 at the Berkshire Museum. In LAB 102, children and families will discover an array of hands-on activities focused on creative play and incorporating experiences that reflect concepts drawn from both the arts and science. Some of the rotating and changing experiences planned for LAB 102 include a number of self-directed creative play opportunities using an assortment of building toys and materials such as TEGU magnetic blocks, colorful connector straws, LEGO, and regular wooden blocks. An over-sized ‘exquisite corpse’-style iterative drawing project will be offered, inviting visitors to add to and embellish the artwork created by previous participants. Science-based activities will be available, from learning about electricity using miniature LED lights to discovering robotics and even exploring forensics. Collaborative art-making projects utilizing found objects and recycled or materials will be part of the LAB 102 experience as well.

In September, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) awarded Professors Marty Blatt and Victoria Cain of the Northeastern Public History Program a grant to update the National Register documentation for Longfellow House/ Washington Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge, MA. Blatt and Cain will work with their MA students, along with NPS and historic preservation practitioners, to investigate how eighteenth century slavery, nineteenth century abolitionism, and twentieth century social and aesthetic reform movements shaped the history of the house and the lives of the people who lived there.

Rhode Island

The Newport Historical Society has a new interactive adventure game based on Newport's Stamp Act Crisis. The game, Under All These Unfortunate Circumstances, offers players a chance to navigate the difficult moral choices that islanders faced in 1765. That's when the British Parliament enacted the Stamp Act and called for the colonists to pay an unpopular tax on all printed materials from playing cards to newspapers. "This is our first game," said Ruth Taylor, the historical society's executive director. But it's not the society's first foray into the digital future. The Stamp Act game, which was created by summer fellow Katie Shinabeck, is the most recent addition to the society's digital collection of archived documents, indices, photographs, publications and other materials.

Providence Children’s Museum’s milestone 20th AmeriCorps team completed a year of committed service in August.  The 2015-16 AmeriCorps members served 19,000 hours as they facilitated engaging problem-solving activities for 1,100 Head Start preschoolers; engaged 200 elementary school-aged children with inspiring play-based math and science activities during after-school Learning Clubs; welcomed 1,400 low-income children and family members to free Museum family nights; and more.  For a fifth summer, PCM staff brought imaginative fort building, bubble blowing and other unstructured play experiences to hundreds of kids and family members at neighborhood parks and festivals throughout Providence.  The Museum also collaborated with the City of Providence and other partners on the third summer of Providence PlayCorps, a program to activate city parks with play and creative exploration in conjunction with the free federal summer meals program.  PlayCorps welcomed over 3,500 people at seven inner-city neighborhood parks. The museum has received a $24,999 grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) to fund a one-year planning process to look at what frontline staffing, recruitment and training is needed to best support the visitor experience and meet strategic plan goals.

Vermont

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain received a Museums for America grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The $148,000 grant will go towards Early Science Learning, to address the need for an improved early-science learning program for children 0 - 6 across Vermont. Partnering with three local early learning providers, the program will build school science readiness by connecting young children and preschool educators to high-quality science training materials and learning experiences. ECHO also received an IMLS $25,000 Sparks! Ignition grant, to support their role as the backbone for the Vermont Clean Water Network. They will develop and launch an online platform that provides shared services including a shared measurement of success, host a dashboard of community level indicators, and share stories articulating the values of clean water. 

As part of Making Spaces: Expanding Maker Education Across the Nation, a nationwide program supported by Google, the Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed) and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, are partnering with Montshire Museum of Science to provide local schools with guidance, professional development, and support to jumpstart and sustain maker education in classrooms. In particular, the Montshire will tackle the crucial topic of fundraising, working closely with local schools to launch a crowdfunding campaign, which will then help to fund makerspaces and maker programs in these schools. "We are excited to collaborate with partners across the country to better support making, engineering, and tinkering in northern New England’s rural schools,” says Montshire’s Director of Education Greg DeFrancis.

Rokeby Museum received a Museums for America grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The $18,000 award will pay for an aspirating smoke detection system in the museum’s historic house. The museum also received an honorable mention in the AAM Publications Design Competition for its 2015 book, Farming & Feasting with the Robinsons.

New England

Congratulations to the following NEMA members that received IMLS Museums for America grants:
Connecticut Landmarks, $150,000
Florence Griswold Museum, $49,530
Mystic Seaport, $24,971
Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, $97,717
Kent Historical Society, $17,394
Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, $68,323
Boston Children's Museum, $150,000
Concord Museum, $133,249
Clark Art Institute, $24,847
Plimoth Plantation, $149,245
Martha's Vineyard Museum, $109,040
Nantucket Historical Association, $150,000
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, $149,808
Springfield Museums, $106,592
Danforth Art Museum, $24,998
Providence Children's Museum, $24,999
Preservation Society of Newport County, $99,422
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, $148,559
Middlebury College Museum of Art, $41,558
Rokeby Museum, $18,200