Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Awards Mid-America Science Museum $7.8 Million
Mid-America Science Museum (MASM) has been awarded a $7.8 million capital grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to renovate the Museum’s building and exhibits.
“We are thrilled for the Museum, and for the community of Hot Springs,” said Lance Garner, MASM Board of Trustees Chairman. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our Museum to reach its fullest potential.”
The renewed MASM will offer stronger connections between science and the Museum visitors' everyday lives. With the expansion, the Museum will be able to strengthen its usefulness and appeal to visiting children, while offering expanded learning opportunities for teachers and surrounding school systems as well.
In 2009, MASM was awarded $286,036 from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to fund a two-year planning process aimed at improving operations and exhibits. The result is a long-term progressive and sustainable plan for exhibits as well as educational programs. The Museum has not only focused on a renewed educational vision, but also capitalized on its reputation as a strong family tourist destination. With the creation of major new outdoor experiences and a significant renovation of the Museum’s interior, MASM aims to create a more distinctive and memorable destination for visitors.
“Our entire Board and staff worked diligently the last two years with top Museum consulting firms in the country to establish a viable plan that makes the most out of our indoor space and outdoor 21- acre wooded site” said Andy Marquart, Executive Director. “Thanks to the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, we were not only able to create the master plan, but now we have the chance to turn it into reality.”
“It was obvious to our trustees that the Mid-America Museum Board and leadership staff made maximum benefit of their planning grant in preparing their capital grant application,” stated Fred W. Smith, Chairman of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. “With the award of this capital grant they will be able to refresh their visitor experience, enhance their capability to promote informal discovery learning and continue as a strong member of the Donald W. Reynolds Arkansas Children’s Discovery Center Network.”
MASM’s revised exhibits and programs will offer a range of learning opportunities for users from the casual to the committed. The idea is to engage families and children at their own levels of interest and move them to a deeper level of understanding through open-ended and highly engaging activities. The Museum plans to renovate every major exhibit hall resulting in a state-of-the-art facility for people of all ages.
A key component to the renovation is to allow the Museum to adapt and change for years to come, offering new experiences with each visit. “We wanted to ensure that our Museum stays relevant” said Marquart. “To do this we have developed a plan that allows for platforms that can readily change with our audience, as well as an expanded temporary exhibit space so we can continue to bring in world-class traveling exhibitions.”
The Reynolds Foundation gift is just the beginning. Before the Museum can start construction on the project, it must raise a $1.6 million match for the entire grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. “We are well on our way to reaching our goal for raising the match required to start construction” said Marquart. “With the help of the generous people in Garland county, I have all the confidence in the world we will be able to raise the funds required to begin construction by the Fall of 2012.”
About Donald W. Reynolds Foundation: The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed more than $40 million through its Children’s Discovery Initiative.
About the Project: The Arkansas Gallery will focus on geography, geology, and weather. For locals this provides opportunities for deeper understanding of the place they call home. For tourists this is a way of introducing them to region. The Physical Science Gallery will be devoted to forces of matter, energy, and gravity. A large, highly kinetic ball run exhibit that arcs up and out from the mid level platform into the airspace will highlight the large opening over the main exhibit floor. The Inventors Tinkering Workshop will provide a major new platform for the Museum to increase its emphasis discovery learning by utilizing core principles of structure, movement, control, and communication through individual work stations using common materials. This concept gives the visitor the chance to develop confidence and skills for taking on creative projects in all aspects of their lives. The Science Skywalk will take center stage of the facility’s outdoor renovation. This outdoor platform will be located 25-30 ft above ground offering a unique experience found nowhere else in the State. The aim of the Skywalk is to shift visitors’ perspectives, leaving them more open to discovery, observation, and collaboration with each other. Several exhibits will compliment the experience in the treetops as guests meander through the forest canopy. A Digital Dome Theater is also planned, offering a diverse array of shows that compliment educational objectives as well as traveling exhibit content in the Museum. The theater will seat up to 50 people and have a full-dome projection-style show that will immerse the families and children an a 180 degree viewing area.
Other major renovated areas will include the Museum’s café, the lobby, the Museum Store, as well as the Classroom and Tesla Theater. more