First Lady Michelle Obama Joins IMLS to Launch “Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens”

I’m going to post a recent press release I received from AASLH, and then pose a few questions at the end of it. It’s a really interesting initiative that deserves some good thought.

First Lady Michelle Obama Joins IMLS to Launch Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens

For more information, visit: Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2011

Houston, TX—Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Susan Hildreth announced the launch of Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens. The national initiative will provide opportunities for millions of museum and garden visitors to learn about healthy food choices and will promote physical activity through interactive exhibits and programs.

Mrs. Obama, addressing museum conference attendees in Houston, Texas via video message, said, “Everyday, in museums, public gardens, zoos, and so many other places, you expose our children to new ideas and inspire them to stretch their imaginations. You teach them new skills and new ways of thinking. And you instill a love of learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Every day, you all make such a difference in the lives of our children. And that’s why I’m so excited to work with you on an issue that is so critical to their health and well-being.”

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese. If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

“Museums and gardens are well positioned to make a difference. Many of them have core missions that focus on creating healthy environments for children and their families,” said Susan Hildreth, director of IMLS.” They are trusted institutions with deep community connections, knowledgeable staff and the ability to provide immersive interactive experiences that can help children, parents and caregivers to make healthy changes in their lives.”

Developed in coordination with national museum and garden leaders, Let’s Move Museums & Gardens will sign up 2,000 museums and gardens and reach 200 million visitors in the next year. The initiative aims to reach out to and engage twenty million young people in one year in Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens education programs. Activities will include interactive exhibits, afterschool, summer programming and cafeterias that help educate young people on how to make healthy food choices and be physically active. In addition, Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens aims to offer healthier choices in 90% of existing facilities.

Museums and gardens that wish to become a Let’s Move! Museum or a Let’s Move! Garden, are encouraged to visit www.imls.gov/letsmove.

The initiative was originally developed though a collaboration among the American Association of Museums, the Association of Children’s Museums, and the American Public Gardens Association, and has now been broadened to include, the Association of African American Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, Association of Science-Technology Centers, American Association for State and Local History, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Center for the Future of Museums.

“The American Public Gardens Association is a natural fit for this initiative because public gardens provide families with indoor and outdoor spaces where they can engage in physical activity, interact with nature, and learn about the important role of plants in a healthy lifestyle,’ said Dan Stark, Executive Director, American Public Gardens Association.” We feel privileged to be a part of this exciting initiative, and hope to inspire a generation of healthy, active, gardeners.

Janet Rice Elman, Executive Director, Association of Children’s Museums noted, “Children’s museums are places where children learn through play and exploration in environments designed just for them. The interactive learning at children’s museums motivates children to try new experiences with their families and reinforces positive behaviors and messages that can lead to lifelong healthy habits. The Association of Children’s Museums is pleased to bring its network of more than 300 museums to this important initiative.”

Ford W. Bell, President, American Association of Museums applauded First Lady Michelle Obama and IMLS Director Susan Hildreth for their leadership on this issue and encouraged museums of all types to learn more and get involved.” Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens is a terrific example of the role that museums can play in addressing societal challenges and devising strategies to shape a better tomorrow.”

Museums and gardens have great collective power to reach children and their families with important health messages. There are more than 17,500 museums in the United States and they reach an estimated 850 million people each year. Museums and gardens that wish to become a Let’s Move! Museum or a Let’s Move! Garden, are encouraged to visit www.imls.gov/letsmove.

Click here to visit the IMLS Website for more information and the full Press Release.

So, a few questions:

1) Museums aren’t typically considered places where kids are encouraged to move in a way that would qualify as meaningful exercise. Should this change? The First Lady and the Director of IMLS, Susan Hildreth, both speak quite eloquently about museums as learning spaces and healthy environments, and I think few would argue with that, but how can that learning and healthfulness be applied to this specific problem?

2) There’s a lot of talk lately about museums tackling community issues. Should something like this be part of a museum’s mission? How can, say, an art museum encourage kids to pursue more exercise? Or is this initiative best suited for the “making healthy choices” part of the initiative’s mission?

3) I hate to say this, but – is this simply a way to get museums in on a popular issue? Does it come organically out of their mission, or is tacked on?

(I am ambivalent about all of those points, I hasten to say – I just think we need to keep asking these questions!)


Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action

The IMLS is running a series of free webinars about caring for collections.

Per their description:

Using the content of the Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, Forums, and Workshops, these highly interactive webinars will connect you with experts and colleagues to discuss issues of common concern.  The series has a dual focus:  four webinars will help you learn how to conduct outreach to the media, the public, and funders on behalf of collections, and two webinars will help you derive maximum benefit from the Connecting to Collections Bookshelf.

Past webinars will be archived so you can view them on your own time.

Check it out!

Shaping Outcomes: Making a Difference in Libraries and Museums

I know, I’m all about the free online learning lately, but – there are so many quality resources out there to help museum professionals that I can’t restrain myself.

Shaping Outcomes, in their own words:

  • Provides an online curriculum in outcomes-based planning and evaluation (OBPE)
  • Is designed for library and museum professionals as well as students in those fields
  • Teaches the concepts and vocabulary of outcomes-based planning and evaluation (OBPE)
  • Helps participants develop the skills necessary for producing a logic model using OBPE
  • Was developed as a cooperative project between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)

Shaping Outcomes can be used as:

  • A self-paced online tutorial
  • An instructor-mediated distance learning course
  • A curriculum for library science and museum studies classes
  • The basis for in-person or distance learning workshops

IMLS Re-Authorized

Some excellent breaking news from the American Association of Museums: the Institute of Museum and Library Services has been re-authorized by the Senate’s HELP Committee.

The IMLS is a federal grant-funding organization that provides support for museums and libraries. Their authorization (ie permission to exist) has been on the docket for many months now, and in these economic times everyone was a little worried.

No longer! Nice to have some good news. I can’t find a link to the AAM’s announcement anywhere, so I’m just going to copy it over here. If any of the senators on the committee represent you, PLEASE take a few minutes out of your day to write them a thank you email. (Hey, even if they don’t represent you, a nice thank you never goes awry!)

I’ve linked each senator to their contact information.

Senate HELP Committee Scheduled to Consider IMLS Reauthorization WEDNESDAY, December 1
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is set to consider S. 3984, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 (that will reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services), on Wednesday, December 1, at 9:45 a.m. The nomination of Susan Hildreth to be the new IMLS Director is also slated for Committee consideration. See the Committee Hearing Notice.

“This bipartisan bill contains language proposed by the museum field, including support for state needs assessments, conservation endowments, interagency collaboration, and a framework for increased state-wide coordination and federal-state partnerships,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “It represents a field-wide effort over many months and years, and I am so grateful to my colleagues in the museum field for working so collaboratively to get us where we are today.”

If the bill is approved by the Committee on Wednesday, it would next move to the full Senate for a vote on passage, and then to the House of Representatives. IMLS Director nominee Susan Hildreth would only need to be approved by the full Senate to become the next IMLS Director.

Bell noted the uncertainty about whether the reauthorization bill would be enacted in the final days of the 111th Congress. “Considering all the ‘must-pass’ items on the Congressional agenda, we must do all we can in the next few days and weeks to urge the Senate to pass this bill.”

What can you do?
If you have a close connection to your U.S. Senator and he/she sits on the Senate HELP Committee, please contact them at this time to encourage them to become a cosponsor of S. 3984 and to vote in favor of the bill during Committee and Senate floor consideration. You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office.

Senator Jack Reed introduced S. 3984 along with original co-sponsors Burr, Enzi and Harkin on November 29, 2010. If you are represented by one of these Senators, please call and thank them for their support of museums and efforts on this bill.

Members of the Senate HELP Committee (http://help.senate.gov/):
(listed alphabetically by state)

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Tom Harkin, Committee Chairman (D-IA)*
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Richard Burr (R-NC)*
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)*
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)
Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Michael B. Enzi, Ranking Member (R-WY)*

*Original Cosponsor of the bill