MISSOULA – Following a record-breaking year of serving 55,000 Montanans, the University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area is relocating to a larger space in the heart of Missoula’s historic Westside neighborhood.
The new museum, located a stone’s throw from downtown Missoula, will retain the current museum’s most popular exhibits, while adding floor space for new attractions, such as an enclosed net for flying drones and a tech- and craft-rich makerspace. Themed nooks will provide cozy spaces for small-group and family learning, and role-model signage featuring UM researchers will be woven throughout the museum.
SpectrUM will close its current museum in downtown Missoula at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, after a celebratory ice cream social from 3 to 6 p.m. that features Big Dipper ice cream and special animal guests from Animal Wonders. The museum will reopen in the Westside this winter.
SpectrUM Director Holly Truitt said spectrUM already has expanded by adding pop-up museums in locations such as the Missoula Public Library, Missoula International Airport and rural and tribal communities.
“With this growth, along with a number of new federal and private foundation grants, we concluded that the logical next step was to expand to this larger, custom-built space, where we will be even better positioned to make a positive impact in the lives of children in our community,” Truitt said.
Dedicated to inspiring Montana’s next generation about higher education and STEM, UM’s spectrUM Discovery Area shares hands-on learning through in-museum public hours, statewide mobile programming, clubs, camps and field trips. Its innovative, community-based approach to STEM engagement has garnered awards from the Simons Foundation, the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science and through the Noyce Foundation’s Bright Lights awards competition. Its Science for All Fund serves over 6,400 each year, helping ensure all Montana children can access STEM enrichment and role-model engagement.
Through Sept. 16, the public can visit spectrUM at its current location at 218 E. Front St. in Missoula from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Admission costs $3.50 per person.