36 NYS museums were awarded a total of $6,108,821 in the latest round of grant funding to museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, Museums for America, and Museums Empowered. A total of $31,509,007 was awarded to 218 projects across the nation by the IMLS from 568 applications requesting $73,685,100.
The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York was awarded $50,000 from the IMLS Inspire! Grants for Small Museums to increase staff capacity.
The FY 2024 Notices of Funding Opportunity for these three programs will be posted later this month. The anticipated application deadline is November 15, 2023. For more information, please visit https://www.imls.gov/.
Inspire! Grants for Small Museums
Inspire! Grants for Small Museums are a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program and are designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Recipients focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access.
Antique Boat Museum, North Country
The Antique Boat Museum will increase staff capacity to digitize two of its collections about the history of the Matthews Boat Owners Association and the Richardson Boat Owners Association. The Matthews Boat Owners Association collection contains approximately 30,000 documents and the Richardson Boat Owners Association contains approximately 5,000 documents, photographs, and works on paper. Project staff will catalog materials from these collections and make the collections digitally accessible online with a searchable collections database for the benefit of maritime historians and the public.
Castellani Art Museum (Niagara University), Western NY
The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University will develop a traveling exhibition, “Old/New Threads” about the intersections of traditional art, economy, and community-building. The exhibition will explore this topic through the case study of Stitch Buffalo, a textile arts-based organization serving primarily refugee women within the local community. This project will support a Project Manager and a paid intern, who, in consultation with humanities experts, will conduct new ethnographic fieldwork, develop interpretive panels and an exhibit catalog, create short-form videos, and design accompanying public programs such as artist-led workshops, demonstrations, and community celebrations. As a result, this project will recognize the efforts of diverse individuals and organizations that implement these opportunities for disadvantaged members of the community in the region, and contribute to improved refugee prosperity through increased visibility and awareness.
Cayuga Museum of History and Art, Central NY
The Cayuga Museum of History and Art will complete the research phase of the museum’s planned permanent exhibit exploring the comprehensive history of Cayuga County. This project will support hiring a new curator and a paid intern who will create a new interpretive plan which will be used as the framework to inform the exhibit plan and final implementation of the new exhibit. Through this project, the museum will actively explore the narrative of historically excluded communities with the goal to create an inviting space for consistent engagement with regional history.
Children’s Museum of the East End, Long Island
The Children’s Museum of the East End will expand Estrellas de Lectura/Reading Stars, a reading mentorship program that improves social-emotional learning skills, and restores and supports reading fluency in bilingual children that were disproportionately affected by learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include gathering information through community meetings, recruiting and training reading mentors, updating the curriculum, and promoting the program through community partners. Students entering grades Kindergarten through fourth will meet with their reading mentors twice a week in the fall, winter, and spring at the museum’s Bridgehampton and Riverside locations. As a result, students will see improvements in their English reading fluency and general vocabulary, increased self-confidence, and improvements in social-emotional learning skills.
Historic Cherry Hill, Capital Region
Historic Cherry Hill will design and fabricate a multi-site exhibit and related series of programs centered on William James Knapp, who worked in nineteenth-century Albany as a musician, piano tuner, music store clerk, porter, and nurse. In collaboration with the Underground Railroad Education Center, the African American Cultural Center, and Albany Barn, the project team will identify pop-up sites throughout Albany, conduct content research, and work with local artists to create site-specific interpretations of James Knapp’s life. As a result, visitors to any of the pop-up sites will experience relevant and accessible installations that foreground Black life in 19th-century Albany and recognize our diverse, shared past and its legacies.
Historic Saranac Lake, North Country
Historic Saranac Lake will create catalog records for approximately 2,500 objects and archival materials to gain intellectual and physical control over its collection. Informed by a previous IMLS-funded pilot project to catalog records for approximately 2,000 photographs and postcards from the museum's collections, this project will also include photo documentation of objects and the creation of a plan for moving the collection to a new storage space. Project staff will work with a consultant to complete and evaluate the project. As a result of the project, the institution will produce a comprehensive moving plan for the collection, publish catalog records and images, and increase accessibility to the collection. The project will benefit students, researchers, and staff preparing for exhibits and programs.
Iroquois Museum, Mohawk Valley
The Iroquois Museum will develop an exhibit of contemporary Iroquois art and offer related programming targeted at youth, young adults, and adults. The exhibit will showcase artworks that include suspended installation and projection, welded steel sculptures, comic-drama and Claymation, glass works, clay monoprints, graphic novel and video-game inspired illustrations, electronic music, and documentary photography. Related programs will include The Mush Hole, an offsite theatrical dance interpretation of the experience of Indian residential schools; an onsite pop-up welding workshop; the Iroquois Indian Marching Band; and artist talks. Through this project, the museum will dismantle conventional assumptions about what constitutes Native art by introducing visitors to the wide variety of expressions and ways in which Iroquois/Haudenosaunee culture is represented today. Haudenosaunee creatives will benefit by presenting their work in a dignified and receptive setting and by expanding their network of opportunities. Visitors will benefit by participating in an environment of mutual respect and open dialogue, and accessing an alternate lens through which to reconsider our shared past.
Livingston County Historical Museum, Finger Lakes
The Livingston County Historical Museum will use funds to purchase and install archival storage equipment. The project builds upon planning documents created by a team of museum professionals, architects, and engineers, and will address issues of overcrowding and inaccessibility of objects in the current storage space. Informed by a previous Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) report, museum staff will consult with a conservator to implement best practices for collection storage. Improved collections care will benefit visitors and researchers, including the residents of Livingston County and the Western New York region.
Museums for America
Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care.
American Folk Art Museum, NYC
The American Folk Art Museum will work with neurodiverse artists whose artwork is part of the museum’s collection and create an online resource with information about neurodiverse artists. A collections associate hired for the project will receive training on the collections management system and assist with digitization and collections photography. The project will also include a convening of industry experts to develop a white paper that will serve as a guide for museums collecting and exhibiting works of art by neurodiverse artists.
American Museum of Natural History, NYC
The American Museum of Natural History will broaden access to its vertebrate paleontology archive by creating detailed findings aids for eight of its collections. The archive consists of 820 linear feet of materials in 43 collections, including photographs, correspondence, and field notes. Building on work funded by previous IMLS grants, the museum will hire a project archivist and two paid student interns to process, rehouse, and digitize collections materials. As a result of the project, researchers from a variety of disciplines will be able to directly access catalog records describing the contents of the vertebrate paleontology archive collections. Project staff will share the results of the project online and at professional conferences.
American Museum of the Moving Image, NYC
The American Museum of the Moving Image will undertake the next phase of developing a replacement for its 30-year old core exhibition comprising 13,000 square feet of gallery space. The new long-term exhibition will trace the history of the moving image from its origins in magic lantern shows and nickelodeons through media convergence and contemporary digital culture. Museum staff will work with scholars, educators, community liaisons, and an external exhibition design team to finalize the content and create a spatial layout, produce an artifact list, create a draft of exhibition text, conceptualize interactive experiences, and develop a full set of conceptual design drawings and floor plan. This project builds on an IMLS-funded planning project and will result in an accessible and innovative exhibition that promotes cultural and digital literacy to visitors from Queens, the Northeast region, and international audiences.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum, NYC
Brooklyn Children’s Museum will partner with elementary school educators to create school programs for Nature’s Engineers, a new STEM maker space for children ages 5-10 that explores biomimicry (how nature influences human design) through hands-on projects and engagement with the 14,000 objects in the museum’s natural science collection. Project activities include creating an educator advisory council, developing five new STEM maker field trip programs, delivering those programs to Central Brooklyn public elementary schools at no charge, providing teacher professional development programs, and evaluating the programs for their effectiveness on learning outcomes and behaviors. The project will result in Central Brooklyn students making connections between engineering and nature that contribute to their constructed narratives about science, human design, and the importance of our natural world.
Brooklyn Museum, NYC
The Brooklyn Museum will support 55 paid internships for students and early career professionals interested in careers in the arts and cultural institutions. The program will provide training opportunities, that put the lived experiences of these young people, whose identities are often underrepresented in the arts and museum sector, at the center of their work. Project activities include facilitating departmental placements, where interns will develop hands-on experience through real-world projects with the guidance of museum staff; conducting professional development seminars; and developing an intern mentor program to help interns achieve their career goals. Program participants will develop the skills and knowledge necessary for future employment and leave with new professional relationships and a structure to foster them.
Buffalo Museum of Science, Western NY
The Buffalo Museum of Science will gain intellectual and physical control over its fluid-preserved ichthyological collection that documents the population of freshwater fishes in regional waterways. The museum will hire a collections assistant to work with student interns and volunteers to create a cohesive catalog as well as rehouse, photograph, and digitize the collection. Staff will also create and install panels at freshwater conservation areas in Western New York to promote education about freshwater fish at local waterways. As a result of the project, staff will make the newly completed catalog of the collection publicly available through open-access collection portals for research and educational purposes.
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, NYC
The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum will transform its winter kitchen into an immersive space that invites guests to more fully understand the history of enslavement in the Northern United States. Building on an IMLS-funded interpretive planning project, the museum will engage with a consultant to create an immersive projection on one or more walls of the winter kitchen. Images will include original footage of historic characters, contemporary community members, archival images, and illustrations. Graduate student interns will assist museum staff with research, implementation, and outreach. As a result, the museum will advance its mission to support the preservation of the historic site, to be a catalyst for engaging, adventuresome programming and to be a good neighbor and a dynamic resource for the community by providing new and fresh inclusive narratives in an engaging and accessible manner.
Fort Ticonderoga, North Country
Fort Ticonderoga will implement a multi-year project that will provide visitors with new methods to understand the people and events of the American Revolution as the nation commemorates the 250th anniversary of the War for Independence. The project team will work with accessibility consultants to finalize the exhibition design, interpretive components, and digital resources. Four seasonal exhibit interpreters will be hired and trained to deliver new tour content. As a result, never-before-seen artifacts, tactile experiences, public tours, and a robust online presence with audio and video content will ensure universal accessibility and an enhanced understanding of the Revolution’s significance for all guests.
George Eastman Museum, Finger Lakes
The George Eastman Museum will conserve and digitize fragile films from the Anwar Sheikh Pakistani collection created from 1950-1979. The Pakistani films in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu languages were made after the partition of India. Building upon collection activities supported by a 2020 Museums for America award, staff will conserve the films to address deterioration. The museum will hire two full-time film specialists to work with staff to repair, clean, document, and stabilize the films. Once fully processed, information will be published in the museum's online catalog of film records for the benefit of researchers, scholars, and archivists.
Historic Hudson Valley, Mid-Hudson
Historic Hudson Valley will undertake a project to digitize and fully catalog their collection of 3,500 manuscripts, transcribe selections from the collection, and create an online portal that will make the collection publicly accessible. As a result of this project, staff will be able to better understand, care for, and utilize the manuscript collection while reducing the risks of physical damage associated with regularly handling sensitive archival materials. Additionally, the collections portal will benefit researchers, students, educators, and curators who will now have the ability to search and discover digitized and transcribed manuscripts.
Hudson River Museum, Mid-Hudson
The Hudson River Museum will digitize approximately 8,000 objects largely consisting of historical photographs representative of their local and regional communities, including photographs from the archives of the John Bond Trevor family, the Alexander Smith Carpet Factory, African American artist Alvin C. Hollingsworth, and photographer Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. The museum will use funds to hire and train a full-time digitization technician, a part-time digitization cataloging assistant, and two part-time digitization interns. With a more fully digitized archive, the museum will be able to inform scholarship, share their collection with a wider audience, and identify materials for use at the museum and by community partners in future exhibits, publications, and interpretation.
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, NYC
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will pilot Inspiration Academy, a new teacher training and resources program designed to help K—12 educators teach inclusive STEM, history, and social studies, built on the museum’s decade-long experience developing teacher professional development and providing of continuing education credits to teachers in New York State. Project activities include recruiting early-career teachers from Title 1 schools; implementing professional development opportunities, including in-person and virtual seminars and institutes; and conducting a program evaluation. The project will address early-career teacher attrition rates by fostering a sense of belonging in the profession and rekindling the joy and inspiration which brought individuals to teach.
Long Island Children’s Museum, Long Island
The Long Island Children’s Museum will launch the third phase of the development of “Saltwater Stories: The Sea and Me,” a new permanent exhibition that will engage family and school audiences in an exploration of the local maritime traditions that have shaped the historical, cultural, and economic development of Long Island. Building on previous grants, the project team will incorporate findings from the second phase to fabricate exhibition components with an outside contractor, develop seasonally informed programs and materials for families, develop website content, finalize and implement the exhibition marketing plan, and utilize a remedial evaluation of the installed exhibition to make adjustments. Exhibition content will correlate to several New York State Next Generation Learning Standards, and will extend the reach of humanities programming to key audiences, including underserved or recently immigrated populations from coastal communities in Mexico, Central America, and Asia. As a result, visitors to the museum will increase their understanding of Long Island’s maritime history and culture through participating in educational and intergenerational experiences.
Memorial Art Gallery (University of Rochester), Finger Lakes
The University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery will continue its robust arts-based partnership with the Rochester City School District to bring students in grades 2-4 from five city schools to the museum for four weekly sessions of interactive, guided gallery activities followed by art-making experiences. Project activities include developing curriculum and activities, recruiting teaching artists and teaching assistants, training staff, and ordering supplies, holding sessions for five city schools; and project evaluation. The resulting program will provide participants with access to arts and cultural resources, complement and enhance classroom learning, encourage positive behaviors, supports social-emotional development, and empower students with a sense of purpose and belonging within the museum and their community.
Museum of Arts and Design, NYC
The Museum of Arts and Design will use funds to upgrade its primary content management system (CMS) and photograph, review, and update its collection records to support greater access to its collection. This project will convert their current system to a cloud-based CMS, photograph new acquisitions, and support a full inventory of their collections toward complete record consolidation. At the end of the project, the museum will have a functional and user-friendly, publicly accessible database of its collection with artifact-based programming for K-12 audiences and lifelong learners of all ages.
Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will develop public programming for families and children ages 8-12 relating to the new exhibition “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” the museum’s first exhibition for children. Project activities include organizing 19 public programs for children and families including guided tours, children’s book events, holiday celebrations, concerts, and theatrical performances. Project funds wills support building the museum’s internal capacity to serve children and families by onboarding a full-time family programs manager who will organize the events and lead the audience development strategy with marketing and outreach efforts. The project will build internal capacity and create a strategy for engaging children and family audiences. It will also empower program participants to become active bystanders in their community who counter hate and stand up for what is right.
New York Transit Museum, NYC
The New York Transit Museum will develop a community-informed model for creating adult public programs and sustaining audience engagement. Museum staff will work with consultants to conduct an audience assessment as well as develop plans for improved digital communications. A full-time outreach coordinator will be hired to supervise the project and identify external stakeholders to serve as advisors for program development. This stakeholder advisory committee and partnering downtown Brooklyn cultural organizations will inform the resulting program planning framework, helping the museum better-understand and engage with its existing adult audiences, identify potential audiences that are not yet engaged, and collaboratively design programs that include community voices and input.
New-York Historical Society, NYC
The New York Historical Society will create the Tang Academy for American Democracy Digital Curriculum, a free digital curriculum that blends the study of civics and history for middle school students. Building on the successful in-person version of the program for New York City 6th graders, the new digital curriculum will transform lesson plans and museum content into a free resource that teachers across the country can use in their classrooms. Project activities include digital curriculum creation, testing and evaluation, and program marketing and dissemination. The project will increase student understanding of democracy, how it works, and how to make a change in a democracy, and it will build a network of teachers across the country committed to teaching about democracy.
Parrish Art Museum, Long Island
The Parrish Art Museum will evaluate, improve, and expand an existing gallery experience and art-making program that serves individuals with special needs, including cognitive diverse individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, individuals on the autism spectrum, people with physical disabilities, and people who have experienced severe trauma. The museum will work with an external evaluator to develop an evaluation plan as well as a community advisory panel with members from the program’s target audiences and partnering human service agencies to guide the project. Program evaluation will support the development and expansion of future community-informed museum programming to serve a wider audience and will leverage lessons learned to improve the museum’s overall service to special audiences in all of its programs.
Rochester Museum and Science Center, Finger Lakes
Rochester Museum and Science Center will partner with Haudenosaunee stakeholders and artists to develop an exhibit that will present Haudenosaunee stories through contemporary and historic art, collections objects, multimedia presentations, and interactive, multisensory experiences. Funds will support the purchase of materials necessary to develop immersive, themed components such as a longhouse structure, as well as a professional conservator to assess and prepare collection items for display. The exhibit will be developed and curated by a Seneca artist and knowledge-keeper and will explore themes of Haudenosaunee cultural continuity and change, identity, and sovereignty. The project partnerships and resulting exhibition will make the museum’s collection more accessible, expand historical narratives, and celebrate the dynamic and active art, culture, and heritage of the Haudenosaunee people.
Rubin Museum of Art, NYC
The Rubin Museum of Art will expand knowledge and understanding of Himalayan art and cultures through the development of a flexible traveling exhibition that presents the iconography, materials, and artistic and cultural practices of the Himalayan region. Presented in three modules with a variety of thematic access points, different museum communities will have the ability to modify the exhibition according to their needs. Project activities will include working with five university museums to adapt the exhibition, transporting and installing the exhibition at the host site, and refining an open-access digital platform to accompany the exhibition. The public will learn about the fundamental art forms and important universal ideas from the Himalayan region, such as compassion, karma, the cyclical nature of existence, and the interdependence of things.
Sciencenter, Southern Tier
The Sciencenter will address its community’s need for outdoor family learning experiences and increase access to hands-on STEM education through the creation of four outdoor exhibit areas. The project team will use community input to drive the design and development of the exhibit areas, and create and test prototypes with a focus on accessible play-based activities to address learning declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include meeting with the community and gathering input to define the learning goals, fabricating selected components of the exhibits, consulting with advisors and accessibility experts and testing prototypes, and continuing evaluation after the exhibits open to the public. As a result, the museum’s role as a relevant and welcoming resource for science learning will be evident, and local children and families will increase their social skills and knowledge of the science process.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will increase access to its collections and online educational resources for visitors with disabilities through a two-pronged approach: creation of a new digital museum map of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, and an in-depth review and remediation of the website design, development, and content to ensure usability. The museum’s digital experience team will start the map redesign process with user research before proceeding to design and release. A part-time project manager will be hired to oversee the website remediation, and will conduct website quality assurance from an accessibility standpoint, add access content, provide cross-departmental training, and serve as the point of contact for best practices in user accessibility. As a result, visitors will have access to a variety of digital platforms, such as websites and apps that support use by screen readers or other assistive technology; and accessible content, such as verbal description audio and American Sign Language video.
The Strong National Museum of Play, Finger Lakes
The Strong National Museum of Play will use funds to improve the documentation, preservation, and accessibility of 15,000 trade catalogs from the toy, doll, puzzle, and game industries. Project staff will make collections-related information accessible and searchable online through its own website as well as through an external collection website. Enhanced documentation, preservation, and accessibility of the collection will advance the museum’s mission and benefit historians and researchers of American toy and game production.
The Wild Center, North Country
The Wild Center will conduct a two-year outreach and summer program initiative to train a cohort of teen climate educators in climate literacy, enabling them to communicate climate change science and impacts as well as climate justice and solutions to museum visitors using the museum’s Science on a Sphere and Climate Solutions exhibit. Project activities include recruiting and onboarding the educators, developing and implementing training and mentoring plans, enhancing the visitor experience through exhibit-based engagement, working with the teens to develop and implement climate action projects for their school or community, and planning and hosting the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Project funds will also support purchasing high-quality projectors and two back-of-the-house computers to run the Science on a Sphere exhibit. The teen climate educators will lead interpretive programming, become active in community outreach and civic engagement, and support the youth-led planning and implementation of the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.
Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC
The Whitney Museum of American Art will launch a three-phase project to assess, update, and deploy interpretation strategies geared toward visitors with disabilities, particularly those who identify as D/deaf and hard of hearing, Blind and with low vision, with ambulatory disabilities, neurodivergent, and more. The project will develop new standards for accessible digital interpretation and implement them across new materials focused on approximately 50 time-based media works. A cross departmental museum team will work with an advisory committee, focus groups, and an evaluator to carry out a user-centered iterative evaluation process, including completing a needs assessment. As a result, the museum will have institutional guidelines for accessible interpretation and standards for preserving these digital materials. This project will also inform the museum’s future accessible digital interpretation for time-based media and all other forms of art.
Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff
Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity-building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. Each of the 19 recipient institutions will focus their projects on one of four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, or organizational management.
Wildlife Conservation Society, NYC
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will create a new training program for supervisors of internship programs in the five New York City wildlife parks operated by WCS — the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos, and the New York Aquarium. The professional development training program will focus on positive youth development, cultural competence, supervising young adults, and mentoring and career support to help the intern supervisors develop the necessary skills to succeed in this important role. Project activities include hosting listening sessions with current intern supervisors to understand their needs, gathering existing training resources, developing a training curriculum, delivering supervisor training, and conducting training follow-up. The new training program will ensure the internship program is effective, inclusive, and supportive, transforming the zoo into a more welcoming place resulting in a broader representation of youth participating in the internship program.