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Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery at 67 Columbus Road in Athens.

Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery campaign to raise money for reopening, in-person programming

The Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery recently launched its Capital Campaign, which aims to raise funds that will be used to open and renovate its new building on Columbus Road.  

The Capital Campaign is meaningful to Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery employees because funds raised from the campaign will help the business open its new space to the public. After a period of pandemic-induced unconventional programming, the museum staff is excited to connect programming to community members and students in-person. 

During COVID-19, museums across the world struggled financially. A recent survey conducted by the Network of European Museum Organizations revealed that many museums reported a considerable loss of income of 75% to 80%. Because the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery operated as “a museum without wheels” during the pandemic, it was able to remain afloat rather than having to close down. 

COVID-19 challenged many businesses and forced them to develop new strategies that adapted to the ever-changing nature of a public health crisis. Because museums typically encourage hands-on, discovery-based learning, employees in the industry were especially challenged to think outside of the box. During COVID-19, the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery implemented virtual programming and projects like take-home pack activities. 

This past summer, the museum was able to partner with the Shade Community Center to host an in-person camp that was mostly outdoors. For Jen Parsons, executive director at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, summer camp was an exciting taste of the museum’s in-person experiences to come. 

“It was so much fun to be in person again, and the kids were great,” Parsons said. “They’re the whole reason we do this.”

Museum programming has the power to spark interest and reveal visitors’ natural inclinations. Abigail Lawrence, a freshman studying sociology-criminology, recalls enjoying visiting the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) as a child. As someone who is very interested in science, she enjoyed the exhibits. Lawrence appreciates the hands-on education that museums offer. 

“I prefer to be hands-on,” Lawrence said. “I can still learn visually, but I can learn better hands-on.” 

Within its programming, the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery implements STEAM learning, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts/humanities and math. The museum aims to educate in a fully integrated and interconnected way, mirroring the reality of problem-solving in the real world. 

“We're using science to solve problems, but we're also using art and creativity, and learning about the past and learning about cultures,” Parsons said. 

For instance, in the past, the museum implemented a banana piano learning activity. The banana piano joined science-based learning with music. To Carolyn Sheehan, education assistant at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery, the activity was something that stood out and sparked her interest. 

“It's a little piece of very accessible technology that you hook into your computer, you plug the alligator clips into bananas, and they're conductive, and you can play a little five finger pattern on the bananas,” Sheehan said. “That was very new to me. I was like, ‘Oh, this is shocking and amazing!’” 

Those interested in learning more about the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery can visit https://www.ovmod.org or contact Jen Parsons at director@ovmod.org. 

@lwielonski

lw293117@ohio.edu

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