Happy Birthday George Washington

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796

George Washington (Lansdowne portrait) by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

Though Monday the 18th was the Federal George Washington Birthday holiday, today is his actual birthday.

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland, Virginia. He is one of only two American Presidents to not have any authority over the land now known as Little Rock. Washington never ventured west of the Mississippi River, so never visited Arkansas.

As the first President and Father of his Country, he has many things named after him. In Little Rock, Washington Street is named in his honor.

The Washington Inaugural Bible

In 2013, two Little Rock museums highlighted George Washington artifacts. Historic Arkansas Museum displayed the Washington family Bible for several months. At the start of that time, they also showcased the Bible on which Washington swore his first oath as President (the inaugural inaugural?).

A few months later, the Clinton Presidential Center featured Washington’s personal annotated copy of the 1789 “Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America.” This artifact had been purchased by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 2012.

In 2004, the Arkansas Arts Center exhibited the 1796 Gilbert Stuart Landsdowne Portrait of Washington. This was on display a few months before the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center.  In 1976, they had an exhibit dedicated to 18th and 19th century portraits of the Washington, Custis and Lee families. Five years earlier, the museum had displayed prints of Washington in April 1971.

Reynolds Foundation Continues Support of Museum Network

adnlogoEarlier this week, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation announced it is is continuing its major support for an innovative seven-museum partnership known as the Arkansas Discovery Network.  Since the launch of the museum collaborative in 2006, the Reynolds Foundation has awarded more than $13.6 million in funding for the state-wide effort

The latest $3.5 million grant will bring a number of the nation’s top interactive museum exhibits to the state.  The grant will continue support for a 40-foot mobile museum truck that delivers hands-on science education to the most rural areas of the state.  It will also provide stipends for underserved schools to visit partner museums, and the grant also will support The Arkansas Discovery Network’s most recent initiative, the establishment of Tinkering Studios at partner museums across the state.  Tinkering Studios are designated museum spaces in which visitors can stop and build, play, engineer, and tinker with paper, circuits, magnets, and a variety of materials.

“Open-ended experiences like tinkering activities are great ways for kids to experiment with basic science principles and for families to connect,” said Arkansas Discovery Network Director Kathleen Lawson.  “We appreciate the continued support from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation,” continued Lawson. “Their generosity will allow us to continue to grow and expand the important interactive learning experiences we provide to children and families across the state through our partner museums and programs.”

Arkansas Discovery Network partners include the Network’s managing museum, Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, as well as Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Texarkana Museums System, Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover, Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro and the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Museum, Amazeum, which will break ground soon in Bentonville.

Steve Anderson, President of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation remarks, “It’s been nearly 10 years since we realized how impactful it could be for museums to complement the school classroom experience with vibrant, interactive learning opportunities for children.  More important, we have found that museums can get far more for their money and provide more programs to rural communities when they all work together as a team.”

The Network’s partnering museums have served more than 2 million Arkansans, and it has been an accomplishment involving many in Arkansas.  Lawson notes, “Since the Foundation’s initial grant to seed theArkansas Discovery Network, many corporate and foundation sponsors have invested in these important hands-on science programs that enrich a child’s school experience, bring families together in the community, and provide teachers with creative ideas for teaching science in their own classrooms. We are grateful to all these supporters as well.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named.  Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed more than $80 million to enrich hands-on learning experiences for kids, their families, and their teachers through its Children’s Discovery Initiative.

For more information, visit www.arkansasdiscoverynetwork.org.

Museum of Discovery lauded by Mensa

20120814-171022.jpgThe Museum of Discovery was named number six in a list of the top 10 American science museums chosen by Mensa educators and scientists.

According to American Mensa, the organization chose 30 science museums with an excellent reputation for science education and patronage, then asked a group of Mensan educatiors and scientists to chose the best 10.

Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test

The Museum of Discovery reopened its doors in January of 2012 after a $9.2 million renovation made possible by a Donald W. Reynolds Foundation grant.  It’s mission is to  ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

To view the full list of the museums chosen, visit: http://www.us.mensa.org/welcome-to-our-site/the-mensa-top-ten-survey/mensa-top-ten-science-museums/

25th Arkansas Business of the Year finalists include cultural institutions

Arkansas Business earlier this week announced the finalists for the 25th Arkansas Business of the Year.  The winners will be announced at a ceremony presented by Centennial Bank and Arkansas Business on Tuesday, February 26 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

As is often the case several of the finalists in the business and business leader categories are supporters of cultural life in their communities.  In addition, two of the finalists in the Non-Profit categories are connected to Little Rock’s cultural scene.

christinalittlejohnChristina Littlejohn is a finalist for Non-Profit Executive of the Year.  Since 2009 she has been Executive Director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Since coming to the ASO, she has not only led it through the current recession, she also worked with the selection of Philip Mann as the Music Director.  Whereas many symphony orchestras are cutting musicians, concerts and series, the ASO has been embarking on new outreach concerts including the new Intimate Neighborhood Concert series..

Prior to joining ASO, she served as Executive Director of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Director of Residencies for the Cleveland Orchestra, and Executive Director of the Mobile Symphony.  She is also a cellist.

The Museum of Discovery is a finalist for Non-Profit of the Year. Established in 1927 as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, the Museum of Discovery is the oldest museum in Little Rock.  It has been housed in a storefront, the third floor of Little Rock City Hall, the Arsenal Tower in MacArthur Park, and since 1998 has called the Museum Center in the River Market its home.

The new facility provided more hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs, and the museum began to focus more intensely on science, technology, engineering and math. In 2003, the museum merged with the Children’s Museum of Arkansas and assumed responsibility for addressing the needs of preschool children. Also in 2003, the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate.

In 2011, the museum closed for nine months in order to add a new entrance and undergo a total renovation. This project, funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, also provided funding for new, interactive science exhibits, completing the museum’s transformation from a collecting museum to a science center.  Nan Selz led the Museum as Executive Director from 2004 through 2012.  Kelley Bass, a former member of the museum’s board, became the Museum’s CEO earlier this month.

DESIGN ZONE, new Museum of Discovery exhibit


The Museum of Discovery’s Latest Traveling Exhibit: Getting Behind the Scenes with DESIGN ZONE

What does it take to create an interactive and fun videogame? How many beats per second does a DJ need to get bodies moving on the dance floor? What goes behind creating a roller coaster or a skate park that produces the most fun and biggest thrills? Discover the secrets behind how videogame developers, music producers, roller coaster designers, and other creative problem solvers use math to do what they do in the Museum of Discovery’s new exhibition.

Design Zone is presented at the Museum of Discovery through the Arkansas Discovery Network, a statewide museum consortium funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, and will be on exhibit through December 2, 2012.

Design Zone is a highly interactive, hands-on exhibition where visitors can explore a variety of creative concepts to learn the processes and tools needed to create a successful design. Design Zone is organized into three thematic zones, all highlighting the importance of science and mathematical thinking in areas critical to building creativity and innovation: art, music, and engineering.

Design Zone’s themed areas include:

Balancing Art – Discover the math behind mobiles as you create your own balancing art from colorful pieces.
Build a Tower – Choose your challenge and test your abilities to continue a pattern in three dimensions.
Marble Maze – Video game designers use algebra to create games with the right feel and level of challenge. Now it’s your turn. Start with a simple marble maze game controlled by a giant tilt table. Adjust variables and design a high-scoring game.

Drum Machine – When mixing a new song, DJs have to think about the number of beats in each music track and how they line up with each other. Use the drum machine to pick the sounds and the number of repeats for different tracks.
Light Show DJ – You’re in the control booth at a virtual concert. Your challenge is to put together laser light patterns to match the music and get your friends dancing.
Whack-a-phone – You can make music by whacking tubes of different lengths. The length of the tube determines the pitch. Play the mystery songs, and see if you can name that tune.

Roller Coaster Hills – All roller coasters start with a hill, and the first step in roller coaster design is to understand the relationship between hill height and distance traveled. Start a ball rolling down this exhibit’s ramp, and see how far it can travel – just like a roller coaster.
Fast Tracks – Roller coaster designers try to create tracks so that the coaster travels at different speeds during different points in the ride. This giant magnet wall lets you crate and test your own roller coaster design course.
Design a Skate Park – Skate parks can be modeled as a series of mathematical lines and curves. In this computer simulation, you can manipulate slope to create essential skate park features. Test your design with a virtual skater and ride the course.

The creation of Design Zone was made possible by the generous support of the National Science Foundation. The exhibition was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

Museum of Discovery presents TINKERFEST on August 4

The Museum of Discovery will host the first TinkerFest Saturday, August 4, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, an Arkansas Discovery Network event. As a member of the six-museum statewide consortium, the museum will showcase local makers and inventors and allow the public to create unique things made from ordinary objects.

Tinkering is free-form experimentation with use of screwdrivers, motors, wires, glue, and more. People can spend hours creating and building. Tinkering allows them to slow down and immerse themselves in a workshop environment.

TinkerFest will feature inventors and artisans from central Arkansas. Nearly 30 work stations will be set up both in- and outside the museum. Visitors will have the opportunity to construct elegant and delicious geometric shapes with gum balls and bamboo skewers; make one-of-a-kind jewelry from junk; take apart appliances and computers to actually see how they were designed and how they operated; repair recycled bicycles; make fun accessories, purses and wallets with duct tape; see a three-dimensional printer in action; disassemble a vehicle, and much more.

“Some of the best inventions have started as tinkering projects. It’s what has helped shape our nation,” said Joel Gordon, visitor experience director for the museum. A tinkerer at heart, Gordon manages the museum’s Tinkering Studio conducting workshops and encouraging imaginative creation. “For example, when the United States battled the Soviet Union for space exploration supremacy during the great ‘space race,’ people literally went into their garages and warehouses and started tinkering and creating. Innovation was the end result. People invented thermal gear, freeze-dried food, microwave ovens, hair dryers and the list goes on. It’s how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) got its beginning.”

“Another big tinkering explosion was the integrated circuit board. That one invention has led to the creation of computers, MP3 players and other advancements. And, who were these tinkerers? Future engineers, scientists, mathematicians and teachers. We need another space race, and people are starting to realize the time is now,” he stressed.

One can build just about anything from materials lying around the house, from flying objects to intricate circuit boards. Even movie-making can be considered tinkering. It is the use of imagination, ingenuity and hands-on creativity. The increased popularity of do-it-yourself shows, online tutorials, videos and books has spurred a renewed interest in tinkering.

TinkerFest sponsors are Kroger, FTN Associates, Ltd., Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District, and Spectra Energy.

Museum partners from around the country, including The Exploratorium in San Francisco, San Diego’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will participate in Saturday’s TinkerFest event. All three have strong working relationships with the Museum of Discovery and the Arkansas Discovery Network.

The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.


About Arkansas Discovery Network

The Arkansas Discovery Network, an innovative network of museums across the state, has received more than $10 million in funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation since 2006. The network strives to make hands-on, interactive museum experiences more accessible to the state’s schoolchildren and their families, especially those in rural areas. Partner museums include the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Texarkana Museums System in Texarkana, Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover and Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro.

A New Discovery Has Arrived!

The Museum of Discovery opens today!  The mission of the Museum of Discovery is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

In order to carry out this mission, the museum’s space has been completely remodeled and exhibits have been replaced.  There are now nearly 90 customized, state-of-the-art, interactive science and technology showpieces in three new galleries focused on health, physical and earth sciences.

The first thing visitors will notice is that the Museum of Discovery has a new entrance.  There is now a street-level front door on President Clinton Avenue.  In 1927, when it was founded as the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, it was in a storefront on Main Street.  Since it moved to Little Rock City Hall in 1930, it has never had a street front entrance. The museum now has “curb appeal.”

Under the leadership of Executive Director Nan Selz, the renovated space boasts almost 6,000 additional square feet, primarily in the front entrance and reception area. The new space has a contemporary look and feel. A new theater, conference room and multi-purpose classrooms provide new teaching spaces and rental opportunities.

Also new to the museum is its tinkering studio, the first of its kind in Arkansas. Inside the 450 square-foot workshop, visitors will get the chance to create, invent and discover. The studio will serve as a model for future tinkering labs at partnering discovery network museums.

The museum’s new Explore Store will house a wide variety of inventive items that are both educational and fun that will serve as a way to continue one’s museum experience, and to encourage learning and creative play.

Funding has been provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. The Museum was awarded a $9.2 million grant which funded the new construction, the renovation of the old facility and the purchase of all-new exhibits.

Museum hours are:

Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monday Closed (Open on Monday holidays)

Admission: $10 ages 12 and older, $8 ages 1-11, Free under age 1