"A BOOM in Natural History"
ento at SATX.RR.COM
Mon Apr 21 18:41:30 CDT 2003
Many museums were in an expansion phase according to the following article
written ca. Feb 2001 (pre-Enron (12/01) and pre-9/11/01) by Robert R.
Townsend, Expansion Director for the Dallas Museum of Natural History. Mike
Quinn, New Braunfels, TX
A BOOM in Natural History
Most scientists believe our universe began with a Big BOOM (Bang?) 4.5
billion years ago! And our world has been expanding ever since.
What do you think the dinosaurs thought when they heard asteroids BOOMing
into the earth 65 million years ago, creating the Gulf of Mexico, the
Yucatan peninsula and abruptly ending their two-millennium dominance of the
planet? What message do you think the BOOM of the cannons and muskets of
horseback-riding European explorers sent to the Pre-Columbian civilizations
of the Americas?
BOOMs have evidently been a regular part of natural history for a long time!
Now, the world of natural history museums is experiencing a billion-dollar
BOOM! The Association of Systematics Collections reported recently "Natural
history institutions throughout the U.S, buoyed by the robust economy and an
array of funding initiatives, are embarking on capital improvements and
construction estimated at $1 billion for new museums, collection facilities,
major expansion and other projects in some 20 states and the District of
Columbia. All of this activity is a powerful demonstration of how natural
history museums and collections are valuable assets that contribute in a
variety of ways to the educational and cultural fabric of communities - as
tourism destinations, economic levers in local and regional economies, and
essential centers for scientific research and education."
Some of the nation's cultural meccas provide examples of the impact of these
BOOMing activities. For instance, almost anyone who travels to New York
City these days takes time out of his or her business, theater or shopping
schedule to visit the three-year, half-billion dollar expansion of the
American Museum of Natural History, including the renovated Hayden
planetarium. The National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington D.C. has just completed a $40 million renovation,
and has broken ground on the mall for the new $200 million National Museum
of the American Indian.
However, the real proof of the BOOM's impact is that it extends far beyond
the major cultural centers. The North Carolina State Museum of Natural
Science this year opened its doors on a 200-thousand square foot, $70
million facility full of diverse dioramas and interactive exhibits. The
University of Oklahoma just completed the Sam Nobel Museum of Natural
History - a 195-thousand square foot, $45 million project, which is the
largest university associated museum in America. As an urban-rehabilitation
stimulator for the neglected Mississippi riverfront in downtown St. Paul,
the Science Museum of Minnesota developed a 370-thousand square foot, $100
million facility. In addition, projects are underway in Denver, Milwaukee,
New Haven, San Diego and Albuquerque. Plans are also on the drawing board
in Chicago, Anchorage, Salt Lake, and San Francisco as well as other major
The common ingredient in this BOOM? The support of both public and private
funding in this effort to take America's children to the top of science
literacy in the international market. State and municipal treasuries have
supported more than half of this billion-dollar BOOM.
Your Trustees have made the first step in taking ownership of this
progressive goal for our own Dallas Museum of Natural History by pledging
almost $2 million for planning. We will now move to the public sector, and
the community at-large, to see if the Dallas area can join the national,
cultural BOOM by using the public-private partnership model that has worked
so successfully for other cities.
Like the universe (and for the benefit of our community), we plan to keep
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