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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 Renovation: The Arkansas Gallery will focus on geography and geology unique to Arkansas. 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 Forces in Motion Gallery will be devoted to forces of matter, energy, and gravity. The Workshop Gallery 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. The Science Skywalk will take center stage of the facility's outdoor renovation. This outdoor platform will be located 32 feet 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 complement 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 in 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

An Adventure in Learning

The Museum’s new conceptual structure focuses on Adventure Learning, an approach that emphasizes the personal excitement and fun of learning. Visitors will play a central role in exciting, accessible and relevant learning experiences that lead toward a greater understanding of the world.

 

The Science of Everyday Life The renewed MASM will offer stronger connections between science and visitors' everyday lives at school, at home, at work, or in the larger community. The idea is to strengthen its usefulness and appeal to children, while offering more learning opportunities for adults whether they are parents or lifelong learners.  

 

The Space Between With the creation of major new outdoor experiences and a significant renovation of the Museum’s interior, MASM aims to create more distinctive and memorable destinations for visitors.

 

Layered Learning MASM’s revised exhibits and programs will offer a range of learning opportunities for users ranging from the casual to the committed. The idea is to engage learners at their own levels of interest and understanding and move them deeper.

With your help

For over 30 years MASM has served as a unique resource for science education. With 100,000 visitors a year, including field trips from three-quarters of Arkansas counties, the Museum is a major cultural and tourist destination for the region. To remain an innovative learning center and to keep pace with an ever-changing world, MASM is seeking to renew itself for the generation to come.

Please take a few moments to learn more about the exciting changes we will be making. View the video, download a complete report, learn how you can contribute to realizing the new vision, and make a pledge.

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