• Pratt Museum gains $129,497 in grants to create new catalog of education holdings
By Naomi Klouda
Need a replica of a Sperm whale brain, a Steller sea lion pelt, sundry animal skulls? Imagine a catalog at the Pratt Museum that lists all the education holdings tucked away on shelves.
Imagine tapping into the catalog by going to the Pratt’s website.
A prestigious grant came along just in time to help the Pratt Museum take stock of its education inventory and create a data base teachers and other educators can tap into. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Pratt a two-year grant of $129,497 to help with education program planning. The project begins in October.
“This is a tremendous boost to our educational programming,” said Ryjil Christianson, education coordinator.
Collections have long outgrown available space at the museum, and the new enlarged building won’t be complete until 2016. In the meantime, staff, interns and volunteers will be able to go through the education collection and document the many hundreds of items.
“This will allow us to really document that and make sure it matches with our programs. It will create a data base and it will be searchable,” Christianson said.
The holding includes the replica of a Sperm whale brain that goes to the whale hanging from the rafters in the Commons at Homer High School. The museum has animal pelts, several skulls of animals, and replicas of spruce bark baskets among many holdings that help teachers teach.
“If we have it, we’ll identify it and create a data base. I have worked here for years and years, and finally feel like I have a handle on it (the collection.) But someone new may come into the position, who wouldn’t know what we have. This will formalize the documentations,” Christianson said.
The end goal is to produce an education catalog for the public and schools so they know what the Pratt can offer. This will also add to the education kits by filling found gaps. The organizing of materials will help when teachers want to explore topics for a group.
“For new educators it’s hard to get an understanding of what we offer. A catalog will be a wonderful tool and hopefully it will increase our visitation and use by visitors,” Christian said.
The award also helps the Pratt with education program planning to ensure that learning opportunities offered around the new Pratt building will meet current and future needs of audiences in a financially sustainable way, said Diane Converse, Pratt’s executive director.
“The receipt of this highly competitive grant is a vote of confidence in our award-winning museum,” she said in a press release.
The long-term education plan will build around audience interest, as well and will match up with master exhibits.
“This is also about developing an educational program related to new exhibits in the new building. We will be looking at current programs and looking at the prioritizing of new ideas,” Converse said.
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