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Carnegie Museums





My Museums in Pittsburgh

How many humans can fit inside a single Sauropod footprint? Just ask the third and fourth graders from St. Bernard School in Indiana, Pennsylvania, who visited Carnegie Museum of Natural History in May. During their half-day visit, they discovered that 10 of them could fit—just barely—into the huge model of a dinosaur footprint in Dinosaur Hall. They also did a lot of hands-on exploring at the museum’s Discovery Room, visited the African and Polar World exhibits, and saw a movie about natural disasters in Earth Theater.

In the Discovery Room, time passed quickly as the students moved among the many stations, viewing birds and mammals in a tree through binoculars, looking at layers of time at the reconstruction of an archeological site in western Pennsylvania, studying such residents of the saltwater aquarium as a chocolate chip sea star, and examining artifacts from Africa. Student Chelsea Miller says, “It was cool to see the frogs. My friend Alex and I made up a story about the animals we saw in the Discovery Room.”

Each student had his or her favorite attraction of the day. “I liked the Earth Theater movie best,” Alexis Tomacruz says. “It was really cool because it felt like you were moving!”

The 34 students from St. Bernard School are hardly alone in their enthusiasm for the riches of Carnegie Museums. In fact, more than 1.6 million people are reached by the museums each year. But at least one-third of them, like the kids from St. Bernard’s, live outside the five-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland). That means more than half a million people a year either make a long trek to Pittsburgh to visit Carnegie Museums; are visited in their schools by Carnegie Museums educational outreach staff; or are touched by the museums at
a number of off-site events.

Putting this very large number into perspective is as simple as returning to Indiana County with the third- and fourth-graders from St. Bernard School. They share something in common with thousands of other Indiana County residents who view the four Carnegie Museums as “their” museums.

Third- and fourth-graders from St. Bernard’s School in Indiana, Pa.,
come to Carnegie Museum of Natural History every year to experience
all the museum has to offer.

Long-Distance Culture
Last year, nearly 9,000 residents of Indiana County traveled to one of the four Carnegie Museums or were visited by one of the museums’ outreach programs. This includes individual visitors, group visitors such as school groups, and the people who experience Carnegie Museums through the work of educational outreach staff who conduct thousands of assembly and in-classroom programs a year and also attend community events such as county fairs.

Reaching out to other communities is an integral part of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh’s vision. As a regional asset, the museums serve children and adults from throughout the tri-state area—and beyond. And more than 400 businesses enjoy being a part of Carnegie Museums as well by becoming Corporate Members, organizations—large and small—that support the museums through a contribution and, in return, get a variety of benefits for their employees, ranging from free museum passes and two-for-one admissions to expedited entry to some of the busier venues.

Indiana County currently has four corporate members whose owners
believe that what the four Carnegie Museums offer is pretty valuable to their employees. While Indiana County may boast a beautiful natural setting and abundant wildlife, it takes a trip to Pittsburgh, according to several corp-orate members, to enjoy some of the nation’s best art, science, and natural history offerings.

One of those Corporate Members — Shop ’n Save store in Saltsburg, Pa.— also helps kids from Indiana County raise money for special assembly programs brought to their schools by Carnegie Museums.

The Traveling Museums
Ellsworth Brown, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh president, says, “It’s not enough that we bring people into our doors. It’s just as important that we take what we have to offer outside our museums and into the communities that we’re here to serve.”

And travel they do. In 2002, the education staffs of Carnegie Science Center and Carnegie Museum of Natural History traveled thousands of miles to help teach more than 400,000 students, 4,000 of them from Indiana County. They reach at least that many kids every year through assembly and in-classroom programs on subjects ranging from gravity to bugs and insects—all presented in extremely
kid-friendly ways.

On a cold day in February 2003, students in grades 1–5 at Elders Ridge Elementary School in Saltsburg, Pa. (Indiana County), were treated to “Space Encounters,” one of the newest assembly programs in Carnegie Science Center’s arsenal of fun, interactive and, at times, explosive school programs. Many of the programs are funded through the Shop ‘n Save “Seeds” program, which helps schools pay for programs conducted by the Science Center and Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Through the Seeds program, local Shop ’n Save stores, such as the Shop ’n Save in Saltsburg, cover the cost of school assemblies when $250 in receipts are collected
for each student.

Science Center educators such as Sarah McCloskey have been showcasing the popular Space Encounters program since January. She easily gets the at-tention of her audience by first explain-ing that her job is to make them recognize “both the beauty and the dangers of space travel.” First the danger: Sarah uses a vacuum pump to show the students just how deadly space would be without the protection of a pres-surized suit. Lungs (a balloon) would over-inflate. Blood (red-dyed water) would boil. And “yes,” she answers, “ a person’s head could even burst.”

But there’s beauty, too, she notes. During Space Encounters, students also learn about comets, stars, meteors, and planets. In fact, for a short time they are the planets, as several students position themselves like the solar system. The “sun” can’t get far enough away and still be on the school grounds! Soon,
an explosion sounds, accompanied by a brilliant flash of light. Screams of delight follow as kids jump to their feet. It’s all part of a demonstration about the inhospitable conditions found in space—one that leaves a lasting memory with the children.

Patty Shupe, a parent of three students at Elders Ridge as well as
the vice president of the school PTA, coordinated the visit from Carnegie Science Center. “The kids really enjoy these programs,” she says. “And this visit was a good opportunity for them to ask questions regarding the crash of the space shuttle,” which had occurred just prior to the presentation.

Carnegie Science Center takes assembly programs like Space Encounters and Great Balls of Fire to schools throughout western Pennsylvania and as far away as Ohio, West Virginia, and New York. Recently, Science Center staff were invited to give presentations to two schools in Virginia that had discovered the Carnegie Science Center’s education programs on the Internet.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s assembly programs are also popular in-school attractions. Last year, the museum took its “Science on Stage” performances to 17 counties in Pennsylvania, four in West Virginia, and one in Ohio. In Indiana County last year, about 2,000 students enjoyed such shows as It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Bug.

Last year, Carnegie Museums hosted more than 58 school groups from Indiana County alone.





Calling All Groups
While school groups account for the largest number of long-distance visitors to Carnegie Museums, other groups are lured to Pittsburgh for the fun, the culture, and the general good feeling they get when visiting one of the four Carnegie Museums.

Among the Indiana County groups that visited Carnegie Museums last year were the 4H Travel Club; the Brownies, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts troops; Camp IQ; Saltsburg Presbyterian Church; and Stiffler’s Greenhouse. That’s all in addition to a total of 58 school groups.

The museums also host “Overnighters” for any group up for a lot of adventure and a little sleep. These special all-night visits run from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and take place at both Carnegie Science Center and the Museum of Natural History. Youth groups and families get to enjoy all the exhibits and shows, sleep in their sleeping bags among the displays, and eat breakfast the next morning. Last year, 150 guests from Indiana, Pa., participated in overnighters at Carnegie Science Center.

“ It’s a pretty memorable experience,” says ((name for quote to come)) from Carnegie Science Center. “They have a lot to talk about on the long bus ride home!”

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