Margaret M. O’Reilly, Executive Director at New Jersey State Museum, shared the following note in response to today’s new normal and to update the public on the museum’s many initiatives.
At the State Museum, we know that art, history and science are can soothe the soul, make us look beyond ourselves and spark our curiosity. I want to highlight just some of what the dedicated Museum staff has been working on for New Jerseyans as we all adapt to being at home:
• Education staff have been developing digital educational content for you and your family to participate in from home. We continue to be a source for educational enrichment through our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and on the Museum’s website (statemuseum.nj.gov). Our popular Small Explorers series has gone digital and you can join in each month. And we have a number of Maker projects that you can do at home with supplies you probably already have on hand. We hope that these programs help to reduce your sense of isolation and provide a fun and educational outlet for creativity and imagination. Check Facebook and Instagram for these projects and new ones to come!
• Our Registrars are working on backlogs of data entry on objects in the collections, entering and editing object records which are used by our curators for exhibition and program development, scholarly research, and to assist in answering inquiries by Museum visitors.
• Curators are continuing to develop exhibitions, educational programming, write scholarly papers, answer research questions, and in the case of Archaeology and Natural History staff – continuing to provide information on object identifications sent in by the public (for Archaeological identifications, email Dr. Greg Lattanzi at Gregory.Lattanzi@sos.nj.gov and for Natural History identifications, email David Parris at David.Parris@sos.nj.gov). And, curators are developing digital content about current exhibitions and collections which will be shared on social media and the Museum’s website..
• We thank the NJ State Police and Museum Security Staff who are ensuring that the Museum facilities, and the vast collections held within them, are safe.
• Our Events & Rentals staff have been doing extraordinary work facilitating Governor Murphy’s daily COVID-19 press conferences at the War Memorial. We are so proud of the work the team is doing to ensure that the Governor’s critical message gets out to all New Jerseyans at this time.
As you may know, the spring is usually the busiest time of the year for the Museum. School buses line West State Street bringing school groups to the Museum for lessons, workshops, Planetarium shows and more. Families enjoy the slate of special weekend events and programs that we present this time of year. And who doesn’t like to stop into our inviting Museum Shop to take home a souvenir of their visit. The Museum Shop is operated by the New Jersey State Museum Foundation, the non-government, not-for-profit organization that provides critical financial support to the State Museum. Shop revenue, along with individual, business, corporate and foundation support, is critical to the Foundation’s ability to employ its staff and cover its operational expenses. Ensuring that the Foundation has the funds to continue their work, which provides critical financial support for Museum programs, exhibitions, research and more, has never been more important. The Foundation has created a GoFundMe campaign to support them during this time – https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/nj-state-museum-foundation-covid-19-operations-fund. I hope you will consider a contribution which will go a long way to helping the Foundation continue their support of the Museum.
We are all isolating ourselves to help stem the tide of this virus, but I look forward to the day the Museum reopens and we can welcome our visitors back to view exhibitions, participate in fun and educational programming, watch paleontologists at work, soar through the skies in a planetarium show, and much more.
Until that day, find creative outlets, read, take a walk (practice social distancing and wear a mask), play board games, call parents and grandparents to discover your family history, bake, learn another language, fill out your 2020 Census form, work in your garden. But most of all, let’s look out for each other. Don’t think of the empty streets as sad and desolate; think of them as a wonderful sign of communities caring enough about each other to stay at home.
I look forward to seeing you at the Museum in the near future.
Margaret M. O’Reilly
New Jersey State Museum