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Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Awards $5 Million Grant to Museum of Science for Construction of Hall of Human Life

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January 26, 2012

Boston, Mass.— With a $5 million grant that was awarded yesterday by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the Museum of Science, Boston can begin construction of a timely new exhibit, the Hall of Human Life (HHL), starting this summer. Envisioned as one of the Museum's largest and most far-reaching exhibits, the Hall of Human Life, opening in July 2013, aims to revolutionize how people understand their own biology and manage their health. Designed to evolve with the accelerating breakthroughs in biology and biotechnology, this 10,000-square-foot exhibit will spark visitors' curiosity about innovations in the life sciences, address their concerns about health care, and help them develop the thinking skills needed to make informed choices.

The Life Sciences Center funding, financial support awarded through the organization's Capital Project Matching Grant Program, provides the resources necessary for the project to move forward. The Museum of Science more than matched the grant by raising more than $11 million in supplemental funding. The Hall of Human Life will result in strong operating revenue, as well as growth in the Museum's audience, membership, and donor base, and is expected to create up to 20 new jobs at the Museum.

"This project will create jobs, advance knowledge of human biology, and inspire young people to pursue careers in the life sciences, key to positioning Massachusetts as a world leader in the life sciences," said Governor Deval Patrick.

One of the oldest and largest science museums in the United States, the Museum of Science, Boston, is uniquely positioned in an epicenter of biomedical research, clinical care, and biotechnology to serve as a public forum for learning about health and human biology. With approximately 1.5 million annual visitors, the Museum's Hall of Human Life will touch the lives of its diverse audiences, including underrepresented communities, teachers and school groups, families, and life science professionals.

The idea for this exhibit emerged in 2004, and intensive work began in 2008. Since then, the Museum exhibit team has focused on design planning, concept/content development, and prototyping exhibits. The Hall of Human Life will reside in a renovated 15,000-square-foot-space in the Green Wing on the Museum's second floor. It will be the single largest permanent exhibit created by the Museum since the 1990s. Content for this ever-changing exhibit will draw on the region's extensive life sciences research community in academia, healthcare, and business, while leveraging new advances in digital media, technology, and personal interaction to redefine the visitor experience.

Visitors will enter the Hall of Human Life through a huge, semi-transparent membrane. By wearing a wristband featuring a unique (and anonymous) barcode, visitors will be able to record and contribute their own experiences directly to a Museum database. Museum-goers will measure their responses to five dynamic environments related to food, physical forces, living organisms, social experience, and time. The Hall of Human Life will also feature a Provocative Questions area, where visitors will discuss public policy questions about socio-scientific issues to develop critical thinking skills, and a Living Laboratory, where scientists conducting research in human biology will invite visitors to become subjects and learn about their studies. The Exploration Hub will sit at the heart of the exhibit, where Museum educators, health and biology students, and retired researchers will address visitors' questions and assist in experiments and dissections.

"The Museum of Science has a long history of innovative life sciences exhibits and programs and plays a valuable role in the Massachusetts' life sciences ecosystem," said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., president & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. "The Hall of Human Life will be a world-class resource that reflects our world-class life sciences cluster. It will inspire future scientists and engineers, educate the public, and train and develop the next generation of talented life sciences workers for which Massachusetts is globally recognized. No museum is better positioned to engage the public in the spirit of innovation than the Museum of Science."

"This generous grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will enable us to jumpstart our construction plans and to move forward with the development of this world-class exhibit on the science and technology of human life," said Ioannis Miaoulis, president and director, Museum of Science. "We are in the midst of a revolution in health care. No topic touches people as deeply as this one. We all wonder about the possibilities for health and longevity that new medical technologies offer. Drawing on the strengths of our region's research and medical community, the Hall of Human Life will help the public explore these advances in genetics and biotechnology, and inspire the next generation of life sciences researchers and professionals."

The Hall of Human Life is part of the Museum's first comprehensive capital campaign, transforming over half of the Museum's 130,000-square-feet of gallery space. With this $5 million grant, the Museum has raised more than $182 million -- and is well on its way to meeting its $250 million campaign goal by 2015. The campaign supports exhibits, programs, and facility improvements that explore the duality of our natural and human-made worlds. The Museum's Blue and Green Wings will be transformed into the Designed and Natural Worlds, respectively, to tell one unified story by focusing on their extraordinary connections, sustainability, and interdependencies.

About the Museum of Science

One of the world's largest science centers and Boston's most attended cultural institution, the Museum introduces about 1.5 million visitors a year to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) via dynamic programs and hundreds of interactive exhibits. Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Highlights include the Thomson Theater of Electricity, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater, Gordon Current Science & Technology Center, 3-D Digital Cinema and Butterfly Garden. Reaching 25,000 teens a year worldwide via the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, the Museum also leads a 10-year, $41 million National Science Foundation-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network of science museums. The Museum's "Science Is an Activity" exhibit plan has been awarded many NSF grants and influenced science centers worldwide. Its National Center for Technological Literacy'®'s engineering curricula have reached 35,500 teachers and close to 3 million students nationwide. The Museum has also been recognized by Boston and Cambridge for its energy and sustainability efforts; named an Employer of Choice by Work Without Limits, a Massachusetts disability employment initiative; is Yankee Magazine's "Best of New England Readers' Choice" for Cultural Attraction in Science; and is El Planeta's Best Tourist Attraction for the Massachusetts Latino population. For more information, visit http://www.mos.org.

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center's mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.

Contacts:

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Angus G. McQuilken, Vice President for Communications

Phone: 617-921-7749 Email: amcquilken@masslifesciences.com

Museum of Science, Boston

A.J. Gosselin, Manager of Media Relations

Phone: 617-589-0251 Email: agosselin@mos.org

 

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The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   email: information@mos.org