MISSOULA – The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area has received a $250,000 Museums for America project grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It will fund a three-year project, allowing spectrUM and tribal partners from across Montana to develop inclusive museum experiences that engage visitors with Indigenous science and culture.

Led by spectrUM Director Jessie Herbert-Meny, the project will deepen and explore cross-cultural approaches to science education while embedding Indigenous science and ways of knowing throughout spectrUM’s new museum location at Missoula Public Library.

Shane Sangrey, formerly a diversity specialist in UM’s College of Health and currently student services counselor at Stone Child College on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, will direct the project’s engagement with tribal partners, which will include a project advisory group with representatives from tribal communities across Montana, as well as spectrUM’s long-standing SciNation advisory group on the Flathead Reservation.

Young learners participate in the Science Learning Tent, provided by spectrUM Discovery Area and SciNation, at the Arlee Celebration on the Flathead Reservation. (UM/SpectrUM Photo)

The project aims to strengthen partnerships in Indian Country while developing inclusive learning experiences for all K-12 students and educators. With tribal partners, elders and advisers, spectrUM will co-design a suite of hands-on Indigenous science activities and accompanying curriculum resources for educators, as well as role model engagement and a video library featuring Native American scholars, scientists and elders sharing Indigenous science and ways of knowing.

“Our goal is for every visitor who enters spectrUM’s spaces at Missoula Public Library to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of connection to Montana Native American heritage and science,” said Herbert-Meny. “We’re honored for this opportunity to work with tribal scientists, elders and partners across the state to develop inclusive museum experiences that will benefit all our visitors.”

Activities and programming also will travel to EmPower Place, a free family learning center at the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center co-operated by spectrUM, the Food Bank and Missoula Public Library.

The project builds on spectrUM’s strong partnerships with Montana tribal communities. Science on Wheels, spectrUM’s mobile science program, has traveled to all seven of Montana’s American Indian reservations, many of them frequently. On the Flathead Reservation, spectrUM co-designs programming and exhibits with its SciNation advisory group, a collaboration that has garnered awards from the Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society, the Montana Indian Education Association and the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science.

Inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, spectrUM Discovery Area is a hands-on science center based at the new Missoula Public Library. Since 2006, spectrUM has brought exhibits and educators to 73 schools and public libraries in 31 Montana counties. SpectrUM is part of UM’s Broader Impacts Group, which works to engage the public, including K-12 students, with UM research and scholarship.

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. It advances, supports and empowers America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. Its vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.

For more information, call Herbert-Meny at 406-207-1010 or visit spectrum.umt.edu/. SpectrUM’s main location at the new Missoula Public Library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. EmPower Place is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. Admission to both spaces is free.

- UM News Service -