BenU's Nature Museum Receives Prestigious Grant
Benedictine University’s Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum is better able to serve the community and local schoolchildren, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant is part of the Inspire! Grants for Small Museums program, a highly competitive initiative that funds only 15 percent of submitted proposals.
The museum will use the grant funding to support a two-year project called “Safeguarding our Specimens (SOS): Improving Research Collections Stewardship of the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum.” The project will enhance the museum’s ability to uphold best practices of collection stewardship and improve long-term preservation of collections.
A large part of the project involves digitizing fossil and egg specimens to create a new database. Members of the public will have access to this information via a new online data portal, which will enable those outside the museum to use it for research. It will also allow the museum staff a greater ability to use the collection for public programs, workshops for professionals, and development of publications.
“This project is a culmination of decades of hard work and strategic planning,” says museum curator Karly Tumminello. “The previous museum curator, Fr. Theodore Suchy, O.S.B., had several external reviews and collections assessments completed by leading museum experts. These assessments were used in our strategic planning and as valuable evidence in our grant request. We are delighted and honored to carry on Fr. Ted’s legacy as we begin to realize his strategic goals to best preserve the museum specimens and make them more accessible. We are indebted to the IMLS for giving us this opportunity.”
As part of the project, BenU students from many different disciplines and backgrounds will be able to gain valuable experiences. "We are happy to provide our museum student workers with regular hands-on training, as well as personal mentorship, throughout their undergraduate education,” says museum education coordinator Laura Hall. “The grant-funded SOS project will provide yet another excellent opportunity for our students to gain valuable skills under the guidance of a collections manager and our director-curator.”
The Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum is a small natural history museum located on the second floor of the Michael and Kay Birck Hall of Science at BenU. The museum represents the work of Fr. Hilary Jurica, O.S.B. and his brother, Fr. Edmund Jurica, O.S.B. who collected specimens for their students to use during their almost 100 combined years of teaching at Benedictine University. In the early 1970s, the Museum was placed in the hands of Fr. Theodore Suchy, O.S.B., who turned its collection of specimens into a thriving nature museum.
Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. It advances, supports, and empowers America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Its vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.