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Dallas Museum of Art Receives Grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Dallas Museum of Art announced today that it will receive one of 12 grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to design a Learning Lab, a new space where young people can connect with mentors and peers, using new media and traditional materials to pursue their interests more deeply and connect these new skills to academics, career, and  civic engagement. Inspired by YOUmedia, a teen space at the Chicago Public Library, and innovations in science and technology centers, these labs will help young people move beyond consuming content to making and creating it. 

The 12 winners—five museums and seven libraries—will receive a total of $1.2 million in planning grants to plan and design the labs. The Dallas Museum of Art will receive $94,681 for the development of their lab. The grant is part of a second round of winners in a national competition to create 21st-century labs in museums and libraries around the country.

“The DMA is thrilled to receive this award from IMLS and the MacArthur Foundation, and excited to have the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science as a partner on the project,” said Nicole Stutzman, the Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education. “The opportunity to experiment and create a larger institutional focus with and for teen audiences is an exciting moment. We aim to instigate some cultural shift – opening up our museums to be more social, recreational, and immersive spaces for the teens learning in the 21st century.”

“The Learning Labs project is a wonderful concept, touching on three major initiatives for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science: collaborating with a nationally recognized partner in the Dallas Museum of Art, expanding our teen program offerings, and exploring the fascinating intersection between art and science,” said Steve Hinkley, Vice President of Programming for the Perot Museum. “Museums are an integral part of rapidly changing communities, so being on the forefront of understanding how they will adapt to these changes is very exciting. To think that teens will also play a role in guiding this direction is just plain cool.”

Each Learning Lab will be designed to facilitate a research-based education model known as connected learning – one that promotes discovery, creativity, critical thinking, and real-world learning through activities and experiences that bring together academics and young people’s interests, often facilitated by digital and traditional media. The winning institutions will match the funds from the competition and partner with local educational, cultural, and civic organizations to build a network of learning opportunities for young people.

The DMA will lead the Dallas Learning Lab project, in partnership with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, planning for which will launch in January 2013. The lab environment for middle- and high-school youth will explore the processes of both artists and scientists, opening up new creative outlets by providing teens with a place to tinker, experiment, and learn using both museums’ collections and a range of digital and traditional media and tools. By looking closely at a mask from the Yup’ik Eskimos and a sculpture of the Mixtec to explore reciprocity, harmony, and balance in the relationship between humans and the natural world, for example, teens might find relevance and possible solutions for 21st-century challenges of consumption, conservation, and living responsibly in our environment.

The DMA and the MNS believe a Learning Lab focused on the many intersections of art and science and STEM-based learning in relationship to 21st-century skills will serve as a highly effective model for engaging teens in learning, collaborating, and creating. Planning and design of the lab will be a collaborative process, with both institutions conducting joint research and dialogue with national peers, developing an active Teen Council across institutions that works closely with staff to design the lab, and designing experiments with artists, scientists, teens, and educators to explore intersections and overlaps between art and science.

“Digital media are revolutionizing the way young people learn, socialize, and engage in civic life,” said Julia Stasch, Vice President of U.S. Programs for the MacArthur Foundation. “These innovative labs are designed to provide today’s youth with the space, relationships, and resources to connect their social worlds and interests with academics, and to better prepare them for success in the 21st century.”

“Because of the expertise and content we have to offer, museums and libraries are uniquely positioned to offer young people meaningful learning experiences that link to science, art, and technology,” said Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “With caring mentors and skilled professionals on staff to guide teens in their exploration, Learning Labs help youth express themselves and hone their skills in a safe environment.”

Along with Dallas, the new Learning Labs are planned for Madison, WI; Rochester, NY; Oakland, CA; Billings, MT; Poughkeepsie, NY; Tucson, AZ; Richmond, VA; Tuscaloosa, AL; Pittsburgh, PA; Lynn, MA; and Las Vegas, NV. These new grantees join 12 additional communities also planning new learning centers in libraries and museums as a part of the Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums project. The initiative was first announced in September 2010 in response to President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, an effort to foster cross-sector collaboration to improve America’s students’ participation and performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since then, MacArthur and IMLS have committed to invest $4 million to support knowledge-sharing activities for museums and libraries nationwide and work together to create new Learning Labs across the nation.

Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will continue to manage and guide the Learning Lab grantee community to ensure that each new space embodies best practice principles, based on research and evidence in the field of youth digital learning, to help young people gain 21st-century skills and an effective STEM education.

The 12 recipients of this round of grants were selected out of a pool of 105 applicants from 33 states and one territory. Applications were evaluated by professionals with relevant expertise in digital media and learning, as well as museum and library management. Winners will participate—in-person and online—in a community of practice that will provide technical assistance, networking, and cross-project learning. To learn more about the Learning Labs Project, visit or

Dallas Museum of Art

Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 24,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Accredited by the American Museum Association, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in Dallas, Texas, with campuses in Victory Park and Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging, and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families, and life-long learners. The $185-million Victory Park museum, designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, will open December 1, 2012. The Perot Museum is named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot, the result of a $50-million gift announced in May 2008 by their five adult children. To learn more about the Perot Museum, please visit

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. The Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. The goal is to build a base of evidence about how young people learn today, in an effort to re-imagine learning in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit or follow us on Twitter @macfound.

The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a global organization providing collective voice and professional support for science centers, museums, and related institutions, whose innovative approaches to science learning inspire people of all ages about the wonders and the meaning of science in their lives. Through strategic alliances and global partnerships, ASTC strives to increase awareness of the valuable contributions its members make to their communities and the field of informal STEM learning. Founded in 1973, ASTC now represents over 600 members in 45 countries, including not only science centers and museums, but also nature centers, aquariums, planetariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and natural history and children’s museums, as well as companies, consultants, and other organizations that share an interest in informal science education. For more information on ASTC, or to find a science center near you, please visit or follow us on Twitter @sciencecenters.

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is a membership organization made up of North America’s premier public library systems and the corporations supporting them. While ULC’s members primarily represent urban and suburban settings, the work done by ULC is widely used by all libraries including those in rural settings. ULC strategically addresses issues important to all communities including education, workforce and economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, health, and wellness. ULC’s members are thought leaders dedicated to the continuous evolution and strengthening of libraries to meet changing community needs. ULC’s focus is on helping library leaders develop and utilize skills and strategies that match the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @UrbanLibCouncil.

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