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ARLINGTON, VA (August 5, 2021)—The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is proud to partner with Communities for Immunity, an unprecedented collaboration among museums and libraries to boost COVID-19 information and vaccine confidence in communities across the United States.
Communities for Immunity provides funding to museums, libraries, science centers, and other cultural institutions to enhance vaccine confidence where it matters most: at the local level. Building on the many ways they have supported their communities during the pandemic, the partnership will activate museums and libraries to create and deliver evidence-driven materials and develop resources, programs, and approaches specifically designed to help these institutions engage diverse audiences in vaccine confidence.
The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) are leading Communities for Immunity with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA) and the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM). Museums and libraries will leverage resources and research available on vaccines and variants disseminated by IMLS’ research partnership with OCLC and Battelle, the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) project. Communities for Immunity will further build on existing resources and efforts, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Vaccines & US: Cultural Organizations for Community Health initiative, as well efforts from the CDC, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and more.
“In the U.S. currently only children over the age of 12 are eligible for vaccination against COVID-19,” said Larry Hoffer, Interim Executive Director of ACM. “However, children’s museums can leverage their position as hubs in their communities to provide key information to parents and guardians of those children to empower them to make the safe choice regarding vaccination.”
In addition to ACM, organizations joining in the effort include the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). This national coalition of partners are creating a Community of Practice to develop and refine vaccine education resources that will be shared with the broader museum and library community.
This important project launches at a critical moment as the United States is experiencing both a surge in COVID-19 cases related to dangerous new coronavirus variants and an urgent need to dramatically increase vaccination rates.
“Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s museums and libraries have supported their communities with critical educational and social services,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “As community pillars and trusted messengers, they are well-positioned to help build trust in and overcome hesitation to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. With more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. Learn more at www.childrensmuseums.org.
About the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
Founded in 1973, ASTC is a network of nearly 700 science and technology centers and museums, and allied organizations, engaging more than 110 million people annually across North America and in almost 50 countries. With its members and partners, ASTC works towards a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. For more information, visit www.astc.org.
About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.
For more information on Communities for Immunity, visit communitiesforimmunity.org.
This post was written in collaboration with the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and is cross posted on the ASTC blog.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on children’s museums, science and technology centers and museums, natural history museums, and museums with hands-on exhibits. Our field is beginning to get a sense of what the coming months and years will bring as the severe impacts of the pandemic continue beyond what was originally anticipated. In addition, much of the immediate federal relief—which has been a lifeline for many institutions—is coming to an end, even though a return to normal operations is a long way off.
ACM, along with other national museums associations such as the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the Association of Science Museum Directors (ASMD), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), continues to tell the story of the pandemic’s impact on our members across the country. Your institution can play an important role by showing elected officials how these national issues are affecting their districts and their voters.
We encourage you to invite your Members of Congress for a virtual or in-person visit this August, so that they can hear your story and see how you continue to serve your community. You’ll be joining hundreds of other museums who participate in #InviteCongress—a national field-wide effort led by AAM and supported by a number of other national museum associations—to encourage and empower museums of all types and sizes to invite legislators to visit museums across the U.S.
During August, Congress is expected to be on recess for much of the month, meaning that your Representative and Senators are likely to be in their home districts:
Visits by Members of Congress and their staff can be done virtually or, where it is prudent to do so, in person. AAM has prepared step-by-step guidance on how to draft and manage an invitation, design an itinerary, and prepare for the visit. Get your invitation out soon, as Members’ calendars may fill up quickly!
While the majority of institutions in our community do not receive regular or substantial federal funding, many did receive lifeline support from federal COVID-19 relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, those museums that received PPP loans have generally already exhausted those limited-time funds. Some museums, such as government- and university-affiliated museums, needed PPP funding, but were not eligible because their parent organizations were too large.
Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) all received funding to distribute via grants to museums, but these funding programs were small in scope.
Without additional substantial support from the federal government, our community remains at risk for permanent closures.
Congress is expected to negotiate and pass another COVID-19 relief bill before the August recess. While ACM and other national museums associations have requested that Congress include a number of provisions to benefit our community, including museum-specific relief, expansion and extension of PPP, and more, it is unknown whether they will be included in this next bill.
As future relief legislation is being considered, we need to be certain that it benefits all museums. There are also opportunities for Congress to provide support through the normal budgeting process for fiscal year (FY) 2021, which will begin on October 1, 2020.
While attention has been focused on COVID-19 relief, several key federal agencies can still support the museum field through their regular annual budget allocations or through additional stimulus funding. These include the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), NASA, the National Institutes for Health (NIH), the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Congress has yet to decide on FY 2021 funding levels, so for those institutions that regularly receive funding from these agencies, showing Members of Congress the impact and importance of federal funding will help keep our community’s needs front of mind as they move through the FY 2021 appropriations process.
ACM is a part of a broader coalition of museum associations advocating for Congress to create a $6 billion relief fund for museums. The coalition continues to work with other national nonprofit organizations to advocate for continued emergency relief funding, such as extending and expanding PPP, providing access to low-cost loans for midsize and large nonprofits that have not been able to access federal relief funding, and enacting and expanding grant and funding programs that help nonprofits retain employees, scale service delivery, and create new jobs. Learn more about past advocacy actions on ACM’s COVID-19 Advocacy webpage.
The Associations of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. Follow ACM on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. With its members and partners, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) works towards a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. Follow ASTC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This post was produced in collaboration with the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
Children’s museums and science centers have overwhelmingly closed in response to COVID-19. While museums can no longer welcome visitors, they are leveraging their facilities, knowledge, and community connections to remain responsive to their communities.
Throughout this crisis, limited supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers has been an ongoing concern. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) members embark on projects to help bolster PPE and face mask supplies.
3D printers can be found in many museum makerspaces—or behind the scenes, where designers use them to fabricate exhibits. In recent weeks, many museums are using this technology to create PPE! Museums are working in collaboration with their local partners, ensuring that what they produce meets local needs and standards of use:
DISCOVERY Children’s Museum (Las Vegas, NV) is using their 3D printers to make medical-grade headpieces for local healthcare professionals. Using both of the museum’s devices, they’re creating 25 face shields each day!
The Field Museum (Chicago, IL) is using their three 3D printers to make National Institutes of Health-approved face shields for Meals on Wheels volunteers and Northwestern Hospital. The museum is also donating unopened lab supplies to health organizations in need.
LaunchPAD Children’s Museum (Sioux City, IA) is 3D printing ear savers and face shield frames for hospital personnel on the frontlines. To get started, they collaborated with a technology company along with other local organizations.
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation (Santa Barbara, CA) is 3D printing PPE for local healthcare workers in their Innovation Workshop, in collaboration with Santa Barbara Foundation, University of California Santa Barbara, Cottage Health, and local makers. The museum uses the 3D modeling program TinkerCad to create simple designs, and encourages families to explore possibilities, shapes, and variables with this free tool.
The Science Spectrum and Omni Theater (Lubbock, TX) is 3D printing face shield headbands for West Texas hospitals and emergency units. The museum’s FabLab team got started after responding to a call from Texas Tech University and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.
Western Science Center (Hemet, CA) is 3D printing face mask clips for their local hospital. The museum’s four 3D printers can print thirteen clips at a time, with each set taking five hours to complete.
Museums are also leveraging their roles as knowledge-sharers and conveners to assist medical professionals and help the public maintain their personal safety:
KidZone Museum (Truckee, CA) launched That’s Sew Tahoe, a mask-making project for local hospitals. Under guidance from their community partners, the museum is coordinating with local sewers and makers to collect cloth masks. While not as effective as medical-grade masks, cloth masks allow hospitals to preserve essential PPE for high-risk situations.
Even with their doors closed, museums are working to serve their communities. For more information about what museums are doing in this time, check out ACM’s recent blog post Conversations with Children’s Museums Leaders around COVID-19, our list of Children’s Museum Virtual Activities, and ASTC’s blog and COVID-19 resource section.
The Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) champions children’s museums worldwide. Follow ACM on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) works toward its vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people. Follow ASTC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
By Jenni Martin
Children’s museums, because of our unique focus on audience rather than content, are often at the forefront of innovative museum practice around diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI). Our roots are deeply embedded in our communities, and our institutional goals focus on reflecting those communities in exhibits, programs, events and audience. As a field, children’s museums are often more willing than other museums to try new approaches for ensuring we are serving the unique needs of our individual communities.
With the understanding that it’s never been more important to understand DEAI practices in the museums, CCLI is launching a groundbreaking, industry-wide study this September focused solely on these practices in museums: The National Landscape Study: DEAI Practices in Museums.
Through a carefully vetted survey instrument, this study will:
The survey will engage museums of every discipline, size, and region, to paint a picture of the entire museum sector—making it important for as many museums as possible to participate. We know that the children’s museums excel in reaching diverse audiences in creative and successful ways. However, we have not always focused on documenting these innovative practices. This survey is our opportunity as a field to have our voices heard and our strategies documented in the greater museum field.
A report of the findings will be released in the spring of 2020. The results will benefit museum leaders with important insights into where their organization is relative to the field, relevant data for decision-making and strategic planning, and information that will support staff development.
The survey is sponsored by CCLI (Cultural Competence Learning Institute), a process and set of resources designed to help museums increase their organizational capacity around diversity, inclusion, and culture. CCLI is a partnership between ACM, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and Garibay Group. As a yearlong professional development institute, CCLI helps museum leaders catalyze diversity and inclusion efforts in their institutions. Recently awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, CCLI has expanded its focus and invested in long-term sustainability to develop, track, promote, and recognize DEAI efforts within individual institutions andthe field at large. The upcoming survey is one component of CCLI’s National Leadership Grant.
Said Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director of The Wild Center in upstate New York, about her museum’s participation in CCLI’s yearlong institute: “The CCLI program supported our efforts to construct a series of professional development activities to fundamentally change how we approach diversity broadly and the tools to move staff through an effective learning process. Our efforts were just the beginning of an organization-wide shift that continues today.“
CCLI has already reached more than twenty-five museums, including children’s museums, science centers, nature centers, zoos and aquariums, and natural history museums, and seventy-five individual participants. Applications for CCLI’s next cohort will be accepted until November 19, 2019. Find more information here: https://community.astc.org/ccli/home
The National Landscape Study: DEAI Practices in Museums is launching today, Thursday, September 5. Primary contacts at ACM member museums (typically the museum’s CEO or Executive Director) will have received an email from Garibay Group with a unique survey link. Different people at your organization will likely contribute to completing the survey, so, in addition to the Survey Monkey format, a printable Google format will also be included.
It is so critical that children’s museums of every size and region be represented. The more diverse the input, the more useful the results will be for the field and for your organization. Look for this email (or ask your CEO about it) to ensure your organization’s data is included.
Jenni Martin is CCLI Project Director and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.