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A Museum Without Walls


n VMNH is accredited by the American Association of Museums, a distinction earned by fewer than 5% of museums across the U.S. n Over 30,000 individuals visit the museum annually, with another 150,000 reached through outreach programs, online resources, and off-site displays and exhibits.

Messages from VMNH Leadership As the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation Board worked with the Board of Trustees and museum staff to develop this vision plan, it quickly became apparent that the key to the museum’s perpetual success will be through continued cooperation and partnerships with individuals, corporations and organizations across the Commonwealth and beyond. As the museum expands its programs and exhibits, the VMNH Foundation Board will work with museum staff to develop relationships that will result in new opportunities for collaboration and growth. From traveling exhibits and outreach education programs, to groundbreaking scientific research and important collections, the museum’s programs can only be accomplished through public and private partnerships that provide mutual benefits to both the museum and its partners. With continued support from partners statewide the museum and its many programs will succeed and grow in the coming years. Dr. Denise Unterbrink President, VMNH Foundation Board

n The museum partners with more than 70 universities, organizations, schools, agencies, and museums across Virginia, the United States, and the world. n VMNH has a significant local economic impact, employing 62 people, purchasing over $450,000 in goods and services annually, and attracting more than 15,000 non-local visitors yearly.

In 1985, as Dr. Noel Boaz and his team of dedicated volunteers prepared to open the doors of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, it was big thinking that inspired belief that such an ambitious endeavor would succeed. When a state-of-the-art $25 million VMNH facility opened to record crowds 22 years later, the institution made a monumental leap forward in its short but illustrious history. Now, the museum is poised to take another bold step in its mission to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and beyond. For the past year, the Board of Trustees has worked in concert with the staff to develop goals to move the museum forward. The museum’s vision for the next two years is ambitious in its aspirations and efficient in maximizing resources. As Virginia’s only collections-based science museum, VMNH has achieved national recognition for its award-winning exhibits, exceptional scientific research, and standardsbased educational programs. With innovative outreach initiatives, rich online resources, and high quality traveling exhibits, VMNH is now poised to become “A Museum Without Walls.” Sammy Redd Chairman, VMNH Board of Trustees

n VMNH Mission: To interpret Virginia’s natural heritage within a global context in ways that are relevant to all citizens of the Commonwealth. Page 1 n Virginia Museum of Natural History


Accomplishing Innovative Science With an inventory of more than 20 million specimens and artifacts, the

Virginia Museum of Natural History is the only collections-based science museum in Virginia. Our curatorial staff and research associates use these natural objects to develop new information for their disciplines. Geology, paleontology, biology, and archaeology are our fields, and our collections are treasures of the Commonwealth that we hold in perpetuity.

Goals: 1.1 To develop the collections based on the areas of greatest need. We will survey existing collections of natural objects in Virginia to determine what gaps exist in the catalog of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. The museum will expand its collections based on areas of greatest need, preserving a more complete array of specimens and artifacts for generations to come. 1.2 To increase the quantity of materials prepared for research. The museum will hire a qualified technical

research assistant to provide support for our curators. This person will conduct important preparatory collections work across disciplines, allowing curators to invest more time in data acquisition and interpretation. Proper training will be provided in specimen preparation and analysis, such as scanning electron microscopy techniques. 1.3 To expand the museum’s publication program. The museum will contribute to the scientific literature by producing memoirs, guidebooks, special publications, and the museum’s journal Jeffersoniana.

n Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. – Edwin Powell Hubble Page 2 n Virginia Museum of Natural History


Inspiring Learners of All Ages The museum’s statewide, collections-based education and

outreach programs engage thousands of teachers and students each year. Our programs encourage learners of all ages to see the natural world through the lens of specimens and artifacts discovered in Virginia. We bring students to the museum, engage them in their classrooms, and reach them with technology to inspire them with Virginia’s science specimens and artifacts.

Goals: 2.1 To increase professional development opportunities for teachers. Quality science education is critically important to the nation’s ability to succeed in the global economy. Preparing teachers to provide effective instruction will produce students who are competitive in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and health. Museum staff will offer teacher professional development programs statewide and provide science educators intellectual tools and effective instructional materials.

2.2 To increase the number of education programs offered statewide. Our education programs serve Virginians far beyond the walls of the museum. With educators located in Southern, Central, and Eastern Virginia, we are well positioned to increase delivery of quality programs to classrooms statewide. 2.3 To increase collaboration with teacher education departments in Virginia colleges and universities. Collaborating with colleges and universities will promote partnerships that leverage resources and engage new audiences.

n When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe – John Muir

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Interpreting Virginia’s Natural Heritage Viewing and interacting with natural objects engages

museum visitors and brings science to life. A visit to the museum’s galleries or one of our off-site exhibits evokes wonder and inspiration. Outreach, online resources, and satellite exhibits make the Virginia Museum of Natural History a museum without walls.

Goals: 3.1 To establish a traveling exhibits program. Traveling exhibits expose visitors to other museums to the work of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Sharing the museum’s specimens, artifacts, and educational materials with other institutions will increase revenue and reach a larger, more diverse audience. 3.2 To enhance the museum’s online presence. The Virginia Museum of Natural History is best experienced in person, but a trip to our

galleries is not always possible. Developing a high quality interactive web site, robust social networking, and rich online multimedia will provide worldwide virtual access to the museum’s exhibits and collections. 3.3 To increase the number of off-site exhibits. Off-site displays at visitor centers, state parks, and other locations across the Commonwealth engage large audiences far beyond the museum’s walls. We will develop relationships statewide to increase the number of satellite exhibits.

n Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Page 4 n Virginia Museum of Natural History


Managing and Augmenting Resources The Virginia Museum of Natural History is a premier scientific

institution, mounting award-winning exhibits, engaging in cutting-edge research, caring for extensive collections, and delivering innovative educational programs. Continuation of this kind of excellence requires sound management with a focus on accountability, performance, and growth.

Goals: 4.1 To attract and retain the finest staff by making the museum a desirable place to work. The museum’s success depends on a quality, engaged, and motivated staff. The museum will be a well-managed workplace that is collaborative in spirit and provides opportunities for employees to develop professionally and personally. 4.2 To increase visibility and public understanding of our mission. The museum’s legacy is in its collections, research contributions, and a public educated

in the sciences. Many Virginians are unaware of the breadth and depth of these contributions. Marketing, promotion, and partnerships will encourage museum visitation, outreach, and support. 4.3 To deploy and maintain technology to support the work of staff and facilitate public engagement. A robust technology infrastructure is key to the museum’s mission. We will increase the public’s ability to engage in our on-and off-site exhibits and activities. Adopting new technology while maintaining existing infrastructure is fundamental to the museum’s ability to fulfill its mission.

n Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative. – H. G. Wells

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Our two-year vision: A synthesis As the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, and staff worked

together to develop the contents of this document, many exciting discussions about what we can achieve together came to the forefront. It is clear that passion underlies the advancement of our mission articulated on page one of this document. Look closely at the words and phrases we used: Statewide Intellectual tools Traveling exhibits Professional development Virtual access Cutting-edge research Publications This is the language of ambition, and the language of relevance. The common factor in our discussions is that we are ambitious and we will achieve our mission while being accessible to all 8 million citizens of the Commonwealth. And we are relevant. We improve science education, inspire children and adults to engage in the natural world, help develop policy in natural resources usage, improve quality of life, and use the millions of specimens and artifacts in our collections as the foundation of all we do. Together we will reach all citizens and together we will improve science literacy as the Museum Without Walls. The steps outlined in this document are critical for the future of science education. For some steps, staff and volunteer time will be the investment. For others, we will need capital in the form of continued state support and grant dollars, and most importantly financial commitment from individuals like you who share in our passion for the natural world. Whether it is modernizing our web site, displaying our specimens at a remote location, or holding teacher professional development workshops, your participation is critical. Working with us, you will provide an essential mechanism to achieve ambitious goals and keep VMNH relevant in the pursuit of scientific understanding and literacy. Joe B. Keiper, Ph.D. VMNH Executive Director

n In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. – Aristotle

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Foundation Board of Directors July 2012 Dr. Denise Unterbrink, President, Martinsville Clay Gravely, Vice President, Martinsville Manly Boyd, Treasurer, Martinsville J. Smith Chaney, Secretary, Martinsville Gayle F. Barts, Sutherlin Kelly Cain, Martinsville James Farrell, Martinsville Lisa Fultz, Martinsville Barry Jarrett, Martinsville Bradley T. Johnson, Martinsville Dr. David Jones, Martinsville Richard Lawhon, Martinsville Judith Matthews, Martinsville William Morris, Union Hall Jeffrey Perkins, Roanoke Skip Phillips, Martinsville Stacey Reed, Richmond John Ross, Abingdon Larry Ryder, Martinsville Gail D. Smith, Belville NC Forrest Truitt, Martinsville Meredith Vaughn, Martinsville Kris Willard, Penhook Dr. Paul Winistorfer, Blacksburg Ellen Wood, Martinsville

Board of Trustees July 2012 Sammy Redd, Chair, Martinsville Missy Neff-Gould, Vice Chair, Richmond James Severt III, Treasurer, Washington DC Christina Draper, Secretary, Richmond Pamela A. Armstrong, Martinsville Dr. LeAnn S. Binger, Petersburg Dr. Mark A. Crabtree, Martinsville Christina S. Draper, Richmond Nancy R. Fitzgerald, Huddleston Paul Fleisher, Richmond Dr. Oliver S. Flint, Jr., Alexandria Conover Hunt, Hampton Dr. Mervyn R. King, Martinsville Lee A. Lester, Martinsville Monica T. Monday, Martinsville Dr. J. James Murray, Jr., Charlottesville Kimble Reynolds, Jr., Martinsville Janet Scheid, Vinton Dr. Philip M. Sprinkle, Martinsville Stephen D. Walker, Charlotte Courthouse Lisa Lyle Wu, Arlington

The VMNH Foundation Discovery Fund Would you like to partner in the education of our next school group, or assist the next artifact discovery at a dig site? With an investment in the VMNH Foundation Discovery Fund, your dollars will help us achieve our mission. These dollars go towards science projects, educational programs, the next exhibit, and other activities that allow us to interpret Virginia’s natural heritage and strengthen science literacy across the Commonwealth.

21 Starling Avenue • Martinsville, VA • 276.634.4141 • www.vmnh.net

A Museum Without Walls  

The Virginia Museum of Natural History features award winning exhibits, ground-breaking scientific research and collections, and innovative...