Federal Grant Funds Naturalist Center at Museum of York County

ROCK HILL, SC – A new Naturalist Center at the Museum of York County will be created thanks to a $148,875 grant to the Culture & Heritage Museums (CHM) awarded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The grant will allow CHM to transform its existing African animal dioramas into a new interactive learning area at the Museum of York County. Naturalist Center activities for families and school groups will use real specimens and scientific investigation. The museum also will work with middle-school teachers to create programs for the Center that meet state curricula standards.

One of 167 approved out of 433 applications to the IMLS Museums for America grant program nationwide, this is CHM’s third federal grant awarded within the past two years. In 2007, the organization received an IMLS grant of $107,420 to create the Catawba River Gallery at the Museum of York County. In June, it received a $39,250 National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grant to study the scope of the Revolutionary War Battle of Huck’s Defeat at Brattonsville.

South Carolina’s Fifth District Representative John Spratt noted that the grant is significant as the IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

“It is inspiring to know that York County’s Museums are attracting investment based on projects deemed worthy of federal level support,” Spratt said. “It’s also important that this is an incremental step toward development of the new museum on the Catawba River. The people at the Museums and its supporters deserve our appreciation and congratulations.”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham mentioned the benefit for the county.

“This is great news for the museum and the people of York County,” said the senator. “The Naturalist Center will offer a unique educational experience for area students.”

According to CHM’s Deputy Director for Interpretation Owen Glendening, recent IMLS funding makes it possible to develop and evaluate experiences at the Museum of York County that also will be components of the new museum on the Catawba River.

“Coming on the heels of our 2007 Catawba River Gallery grant, the timing of the Naturalist Center support is perfect,” Glendening said. “We can continue to explore a wide range of age-appropriate experiences for visitors here that will ultimately transfer over to the new museum.”

IMLS Museums for America grants support high-priority activities that advance the museums’ missions and strategic goals, helping them to serve the public more effectively.

“By making it their mission to provide the public with top-notch programming and knowledgeable staff, the 2009 Museums for America grantees have demonstrated that they know what is important to their communities,” said Anne-Imelda Radice, director of IMLS, in announcing the grants.

Referencing IMLS’s report, InterConnections, Radice added, “In 2006, 156 million U.S. adults visited museums 1.2 billion times, in person and remotely. These numbers prove that museums, like this year’s MFA recipients, are vital institutions that play a significant role in people’s lives.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

To learn more about the Institute, visit www.imls.gov. For more information on this year’s grants, visit http://www.imls.gov/news/2009/073009b.shtm.

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The Culture & Heritage Museums are managed by the York County Culture and Heritage Commission (CHC), chartered in 1997 by the York County, South Carolina, Council. The Culture and Heritage Foundation supports the CHC, its museums and the future museum being developed on the Catawba River at I-77.