MISSOULA – The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area will open its doors for a free sneak peek of its new museum space from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, June 9, at Toole Crossing.
Community members of all ages are invited to be among the first to explore spectrUM’s new, custom-built facility during the final stages of installation and set-up. The first 100 children will receive a free Big Dipper ice cream cone, and Animal Wonders will visit from noon to 2 p.m. with special animal guests.
Located in Missoula’s historic Westside neighborhood at 812 Toole Ave., the larger museum space features new exhibits along with old favorites, including the popular Large-River Ecosystems exhibition co-created with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems; an expanded classroom; a community room; and cozy nooks designed for making, tinkering, early-childhood learning and exploring the health sciences.
“All year, we’ve been listening to children and families in our community and learning about their aspirations for our new museum,” said spectrUM Director Holly Truitt. “We’re thrilled to be opening the doors to the space to share what we’ve created with our community.”
The Jane S. Heman Foundation is partnering with spectrUM to create the museum’s making and tinkering nook and a making exhibition that will launch in the museum and subsequently travel to communities throughout the Bitterroot Valley.
The museum’s health-science nook was co-created with UM’s Health and Medicine initiative and features exhibits and activities developed through the Big Sky Brain Project, a National Institutes of Health-funded partnership between spectrUM and UM’s Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience.
Nick Wethington, spectrUM’s museum manager, said, “With 2,000 additional square feet on our museum floor, we’re delighted to be able to rotate in new exhibits such as our virtual watershed sandbox while also bringing back popular favorites like our turntable and our X-ray table that we didn’t have room for at our previous location.”
Following the sneak peek, spectrUM will hold summer soft opening hours beginning Wednesday, June 21, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays. During this time, spectrUM will install the museum’s finishing touches, including an indoor net for drones and stomp rockets and new signage rich with STEM role models from UM and the greater community.
Committed to inspiring a culture of learning and discovery for all, UM’s spectrUM Discovery Area serves more than 55,000 Montanans annually through in-museum and mobile programs. Since 2006, spectrUM has traveled exhibits and educators to 73 schools and four public libraries in 31 Montana counties, including all seven American Indian reservations in Montana. In total, spectrUM’s mobile science program has served over 52,000 people, of whom 30 percent are Native American and over 75 percent live in rural communities.
SpectrUM is powered by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, NASA, the Jane S. Heman Foundation, the Martin Family Foundation, the Montana Space Grant Consortium, the Simons Foundation, GSK-Science in the Summer and the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation.
For more information, call spectrUM Director Holly Truitt at 406-243-4872 or visit http://www.spectrum.umt.edu.