SHU to manage the Discovery Museum
FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University today announced that after a series of talks initiated by Discovery Museum leaders, it will assume management of the museum located at 4450 Park Avenue in Bridgeport. The museum is down the street from the University’s Fairfield campus. The agreement comes into effect on January 1, 2021 and will continue until the existing ground lease which is still 67 years old.
The University will completely modernize and upgrade the exhibits to provide state-of-the-art, interactive, and educational science and technology exhibits and programs. The planetarium has been completely renovated over the past year, a priority for the museum. It offers a realistic simulation of the starry sky. The images completely envelop the viewers’ senses for an immersive theatrical experience.
The museum is known throughout its 62-year history for providing hands-on STEM learning experiences. These experiences, designed to encourage questioning and problem solving in young learners, will be enhanced by the creativity and expertise of SHU faculty and students.
“With the University’s goal of becoming a regional leader in STEM and computer science education, and the museum’s excellent track record of providing exciting and fun STEM learning opportunities, and our shared values strong, this rapprochement will benefit the institutions and the community as a whole,” said Michael Alfano, Dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education at the Sacred Heart.
Museum affiliation places Sacred Heart University in the company of other universities that have exciting and vibrant museums that they have incorporated into their academic missions for the benefit of both the university and the surrounding community. .
The museum is currently undergoing a $1.8 million publicly funded upgrade. Improvements are made to the planetarium, exhibits, classrooms and more.
Discovery prides itself on showcasing local artists in the gallery space and encouraging creativity and individual expression through STEM activities, and none of that will change under SHU’s leadership. The University plans to host various student events in the STEM (STEAM) area such as science competitions and similar programs, summer internships for undergraduates and high school students in the region, and special programs for local schoolchildren. For example, it will present opportunities for new activities for students in the SHU Upward Bound Program and SHU Horizons Program, both during the summer and on weekends. This can include shows at the Henry B. duPont III Planetarium, space mission simulations at the Challenger Center, and animated presentations on Science on a Sphere.
The University also plans to use the museum as a hub for professional development opportunities for the region’s STEM and IT education communities with internship opportunities for students in education, marketing, media, management, communications , graphic design and more. It will also give teachers the opportunity to develop exhibits for SHU classes and the public.
By leveraging both organizations and expanding the museum’s offerings in science, arts, media, and technology, the University anticipates opportunities to increase participation from school districts that might naturally align with future collaborative initiatives. These could include producing web resources for STEM/STEAM teachers and leveraging museum content with other university assets such as WSHU, the Performing Arts Program, Fairfield Community Theater and its many partners in the community.
The museum will speak to the core mission of the University, providing a space for academic exploration and experiential learning, especially in the fields of education and science. Students will also be involved in other areas such as hospitality and management.
“This project is another example of how a university gives back to the community where it resides,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “We plan to continue to offer exciting new programs and exhibits for families while providing new opportunities for our students to learn and teach. With ever-changing programs and exhibits, we hope to make this a place people will visit again and again.
“The staff and trustees of the Discovery Museum and Planetarium are proud to join Sacred Heart University in this momentous collaboration. Sacred Heart University shares our ongoing commitment and mission to provide a strong STEM education experience to our community. By working together, we will realize a new and vibrant future for all who study and visit with us,” said Robert A. Panza, President of the Discovery Museum and Planetarium.
“We are excited about the new and creative opportunity options for students in our teacher preparation and leadership programs and for students in the College of Arts and Sciences in STEAM,” Alfano said. “It will give students and faculty a chance to show off their creativity and, most importantly, focus on much-needed STEM programs.”
PHOTO: Sacred Heart University announced Nov. 17, 2020 that after a series of discussions initiated by leaders of the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport, CT, it will assume management of the museum. At the signing of the agreement, left to right, Discovery Museum Representatives Robert A. Panza and Terry O’Connor, along with USD Michael Kinney, Chairman John J. Petillo and James Barquinero. Photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek
About Sacred Heart University
As the second largest independent Catholic university in New England and one of the fastest growing in the United States, Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate programs at its campus in Fairfield, Connecticut. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. Over 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, media and arts; social work; computer science and engineering; Health Professions; Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Dr. Susan L. Davis, RN, & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent College. The Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions because it was created and run by lay people. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward-thinking thinkers who embrace change – in their own lives, professions and communities. . The Princeton Review includes SHU in its 386 Best Colleges – 2021 Edition“Best in the North East” and Best Business Schools – 2020 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to award-winning NPR-affiliated radio station WSHU, a Division I athletics program, and an impressive performing arts program that includes a choir, orchestra, dance, and theater. www.sacredheart.edu
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About the Discovery Museum
The Discovery Museum is a hands-on science museum in Bridgeport, CT that serves as both a tourist destination and an educational resource for families, schools, and other area groups. Founded in 1958, opened to the public in 1962, and originally named the Museum of Art, Science and Industry (or MASI), the Discovery Museum has provided interactive learning opportunities for generations of local residents. Over the years, the museum has turned away from fine arts to become a regional science center. Discovery is always proud to continue to showcase local artists in galleries and to encourage creativity and individual expression through dynamic STEM activities designed to resonate with innate curiosity, the desire to learn and the spirit of discovery. exploration of its guests. The museum seeks to enhance public understanding of STEM through resources that include educational programs, shows at the Henry B. duPont III Planetarium, simulated space missions at the Challenger Center, animated science presentations on a sphere, and a variety permanent and traveling exhibitions. It is Southern Connecticut’s leading nonprofit educational resource for STEM learning and space education. More than 65,000 people participate in museum programming each year through one-on-one tours, field trips, educational outreach in schools, and a variety of fun and dynamic public programs. www.discoveryplace.org.