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UM News
August 16, 2013

MISSOULA –The University of Montana’s spectrUM Discovery Area invites the community to celebrate the unveiling of its brand-new home in downtown Missoula at its communitywide ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23.

The event will include remarks by UM President Royce Engstrom and Missoula Mayor John Engen as well as a blessing by Salish elder Tony Incashola. As part of spectrUM’s grand opening activities, the new discovery area also will be free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.

Located in the Maya Building at 218 E. Front St., spectrUM Downtown is expected to serve up to 50,000 people annually.

“SpectrUM makes science fun and in doing that, prepares students for future success in school and in life,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “We are excited about this new facility, and its potential to introduce even more young people to so many interesting and innovative science-related activities in our community.”

Unlike any other museum in the nation, spectrUM Downtown will house a National Institutes of Health-funded, real-time neuroscience “Brain Lab,” collaboratively created and designed by the Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience as part of the Big Sky Brain Project. This working lab will be staffed by UM researchers and Missoula high school students. An exhibit in itself, the lab will allow visitors to experience cutting-edge neuroscience research firsthand.

Just steps away from the Clark Fork River, the museum also will feature a National Science Foundation EPSCoR-funded large-river ecosystem exhibition developed in partnership with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. A cornerstone of the new museum space, the exhibition will include a water table where visitors can splash, play and learn about the Clark Fork River’s ecology, a river theater, an interactive flood plain table and a flight simulator where they can soar above the Clark Fork River.

Other features include a DigiZone where visitors can explore everything from robotics to digital games from PBS’s popular SciGirls Program, a beautiful multimedia classroom funded in part by the Jane S. Heman Foundation, spectrUM’s signature Discovery Bench, an expanded science gift shop and a full range of rotating exhibits and experiences.

“We are ecstatic about our beautiful new facility,” spectrUM Director Holly Truit said. “It has truly taken a community to create and will ultimately inspire tens of thousands of Montana K-12 students each year about higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.”

The expansion was made possible with support from dozens of national and community partners, including: the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Program, Missoula Redevelopment Agency, National Institutes of Health, Institute on Ecosystems, Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience, UM President’s office, Jane S. Heman Foundation, UM College of Health Professions & Biomedical Sciences, UM’s School of Extended and Lifelong Learning and SciGirls.

SpectrUM’s current home on the UM campus will continue to be used as a gallery space to display hands-on exhibits for the University community and will be used regularly for special field trips, clubs and summer camps. 

The community can visit spectrUM Downtown during public hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission is $3.50 per person. Teachers can call 406-243-4828 to book a field trip at spectrUM. 

For more information on spectrUM Discovery Area visit their website at http://spectrum.umt.edu/.

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Contact: Holly Truitt, director, spectrUM Discovery Area, 406-243-4872, holly.truitt@mso.umt.edu.