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Photo Essay for The Nature Research Center

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FC: "As the Museum Turns..." A Photo Analysis of Museum Professionals Jordan Madre

1: “Museum professionals-both current and new- must consider the infusion of technology taking place in all aspects of museum practices” (Din, 2007,p.9). The new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Nature Research Center, is an incredible fusion of 21st century technology and community collaboration. “Its goal is to bring research scientists and their work into the public eye, help demystify what can be an intimidating field of study, better prepare science educators and students, and inspire a new generation of young scientists.” (http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center). | Not only does the center provide informative exhibitions that coincide with school lessons, but the variety of interactive and hands-on activities available through the use of technology is illuminating. All 3 floors incorporate “Windows on Research” and highly interactive "Investigate Laboratories". Another primary goal is to exhibit the center's commitment to 'going green' and 'keeping it local'; from the restaurant to the actual functions and materials used in the building structure. | “Exemplary projects and institutions exist, but they are still the exception and not the rule” (Globensky, 2000, pg.2). The Nature Research Center is not only the exception but the ideal model for the rule.

2: "GRAB YOUR AUDIENCE! Having 2 entrances to the center calls for the membership director or visitors staff manager to apply proper security measures while still operating in a friendly and welcoming manner. Comprised of mainly volunteers or special exhibition staff, both visitor centers and the ticketing counter allow patrons to view current multimedia events and lectures and upcoming exhibits, as well as membership fees and incentives.

3: This is the main entrance into the Natural Science Museum. Not only are visitor, membership, and security staff involved, but collections, conservation, and design collaborated in a permanent lobby exhibit to draw in patrons. Geese are suspended from the ceiling and diverse NC animals inhabit cases behind the visitors desk. Being that this area receives the most flux in temperature, humidity, lighting, and foot traffic the lobby team (coll., design, membership, conserv., visitor staff, and security) need to meet often to regulate this area.

4: ""Windows on Research | All 3 floors incorporate “Windows on Research” that highlight paleontology and geosciences, Earth observation and biodiversity, as well as animal health. "The museums scientists, UNC System Schools, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or visiting scientists conduct their research while visitors observe science in action” (http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center). | In collaborating with local scientific professionals, the education department can provide the public access to these people and their research everyday from 10am-4pm. As seen above, a conservator and curator are teaming up to provide an educational experience while highlighting the advances in collections care. To the right is a trained volunteer working alongside a curator. Not only is this a great way to promote intra-museum relations, but the public gets to experience diverse museum positions working together.

5: The Director of Development, membership officer, education, and exhibitions depts. must collaborate to "learn what projects need funding and how best to support their initiatives" (Schlatter,p.76). The research labs inspire patrons to explore a scientific path, and as a result, funding was made available for "Investigative Labs" that encourage scientific interaction.

6: Interacting with technology and education | Highly interactive “investigate laboratories” allow patrons the opportunity to participate in genomics and microbiological experiments, as well as explore the use of computers and touch-screen monitors to examine astronomical, natural, and visual data. | Above, trained volunteers and educators work with students, or anyone, to experiment with the activities that the education dept. has approved. Curators of the labs would also have to communicate to the director/financial advisor the weekly supplies needed. | To the right, a deep sea diving simulation is funded by grants and was probably a contracted work. However, museum designers and informatics would need to participate in this production. | Again, trained volunteers usher a certain amount of patrons into the labs, no more than one or two can handle. Crowd control of these areas is key. No food, drink, cellphones, or gum are allowed in these areas. Rules not doubt set by security and the exhibition staff.

7: Volunteers in the Naturalist Center are utilized to explain proper specimen care and use of the interactive projection tables (provided through Burrough Wellcom Fund) Design also has to work with visitor staff to work out the best traffic flow for these interactive spaces. | To the right are drawers filled with natural specimens. Collections has numbered each item and accessioned them into the education only collections. Library staff has stocked the shelves with appropriate materials for the underlying specimens. The Naturalist Center coordinator and curator have offices and a lab within the room. All in all, the curators, scientists, designers, membership and development officers, and collections are unique to the Nature Research Center because they are all educationally driven. Whereas the regular science museum is concerned with collections care and exhibition.

8: Going Green and Keeping it Local | The director, development officers, educators, curators, and membership teams wished for this project to not only positively impact patrons but the environment as well. The centers commitment to going green and ‘keeping it local’ are exemplified in the centers restaurant, museum gift shop, and overall physical construction. The building operates on reclaimed water, solar power, and recyclable and local materials. Museum collaboration with local groups, foundations, and institutions, especially SECU, jointly funded the project, including its initiative to provide such a high level of technological access to the public.

9: To the left is the Daily Planet Cafe that serves only locally grown food, beer, and wine. Many museum meetings and public events have occurred, bringing in revenue for the museum. A smart move for the director. | Below is the gift shop that is run by volunteers and retails local handicrafts and items approved by the marketing and PR staff. Education and visitor staff might be involved to give input on waht the public wants to buy. | The marketing and PR staff utilize the SECU amphitheater for special events, lectures, and educational programs. Educators and curators work to provide short films about research and conservation. Designers oversee the maintenance.

10: The arching theme of the Nature Research Center is to educate the public about the value of scientific research within human, animal, and plant life. Educators are highly "focused on developing, managing, and assessing the museum's programs" and work closely with the membership and development officers to create a friendly and proactive work environment that can be exhibited behind glass windows (Schlatter,p.80). Designers either outsource or work with collaborating funding groups to provide interactive and hands-on learning experiences. Volunteers are trained and skilled in maintaining the collections through guided tours. They also are the primary protectors of the collection while on display. Given that the center is free, membership officers give their time to acquiring donations and funding, while working with marketing to access new member pools within the community. Glaser stated that by 2000 "advanced computer simulations that use images, sound and text will lend realism and allow visitors to learn by following their own interests" (Glaser, p.242). The Nature Research Center meets this requirement and surpasses it to accomplish the ultimate educational value by seeking and implementing the lastest technological museum advances.

11: References http://naturalsciences.org/nature-research-center Din, H., & Hecht, P. (2007). Preparing the next generation of museum professional. In H. Din & P. Hecht (Eds.), The digital museum: A think guide (pp. 9-17). Washington, DC: American Association of Museums Globensky, B. (2000) Reclaiming museum education. ICOM Keynote Presentation Response. Retrieved from PDF Dr_Brigid_Globensky.pdf Schlatter, N. E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices (pp. 80-84). Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. Glaser, J. R., & Zenetou, A. A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers (pp. 103-104, pp. 107-108, 240-244). New York, NY: Routledge.

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  • By: Jordan M.
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  • Title: Photo Essay for The Nature Research Center
  • Photo essay documenting the most prevalent museum professionals work within the Center
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  • Published: about 4 years ago

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