The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo (JMZ) grant funds in the amount of $270,124 under the IMLS “Museums for America” program. Funds will support a model initiative called Access from the Ground Up, a three-year program to ensure that the Junior Museum’s new facility, exhibits, and programs (opening mid-2020) are accessible to everyone, including children with special needs. Access from the Ground Up addresses the lack of quality science learning experiences for the growing number of children with physical and ateevelopmental disabilities.
Access from the Ground Up will accomplish its goals through three principal efforts—the development of new strategic partnerships, staff professional development, and the development of new accessible visitor experiences. The Inclusion Collaborative of the Santa Clara County Office of Education will serve as lead partner for the project, facilitating seven intensive access trainings for JMZ staff and volunteers. The project also calls for the creation of 27 new science exhibits for children of all developmental levels and abilities, along with a special quiet area for visitors called “the Calming Nook.”
“The support of IMLS is tremendously important because the visitor experience enhancements this grant supports will benefit not just children with special needs,” said JMZ Executive Director, John Aikin. “Increasing accessibility enriches the experience for everybody.”
About the Junior Museum and Zoo
The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo (JMZ) has an 84-year legacy of inspiring a passion for science, an appreciation for nature, and a love of exploration. The JMZ experience changes children’s lives by introducing them to science and nature at a formative state. The JMZ provides enhanced experiences for children, from birth to middle school, offering direct access to nature and science through interactive exhibits, a zoo, and hands-on science programs for families and elementary school children. Each year, the JMZ receives approximately 184,000 visitors, and more than 18,000 young children take part in the many high-quality science programs the institution has to offer, including academic science lessons for schools and community groups, school field trips, summer camps, preschool and caregiver family programs, afterschool programs, science birthday parties, teen mentoring programs, and special events for families with children with special needs. The JMZ is operated by the City of Palo Alto with support from the Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo.
In May of 2018, the JMZ will move its entire operation to Cubberley Community Center for two years while it rebuilds its facility on Middlefield Road. While at its temporary location, the public will still have access to all of JMZ’s existing programs and indoor exhibits, and will enjoy some new surprises on the museum floor as well. Due to the temporary relocation, however, public access to some zoo animals will be limited and many will only be accessible to visitors through special programs, like school science lessons, birthday parties, and summer camps. Opening in mid-2020, the rebuilt JMZ will feature brand new fully accessible indoor and outdoor exhibits, enhanced visitor amenities, and a zoo experience that allows for freer movement of animals and a more intimate experience between visitors and animals.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. The agency’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, 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 www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.