Jacksonian Gazette

The Hermitage Awarded Federal Grant to Expand Interactive Programming

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the Andrew Jackson Foundation a $115,109 grant to develop a long-range interpretive plan that will inform new interactive programming and impact how visitors experience the museum. The project is set to take place over the next two years. When completed, The Hermitage’s visitors can expect updated tours and exhibits that engage and interact with the audience for a multisensory learning experience.

“We are honored to have won such a competitive grant,” said Marsha Mullin, Vice President of Museum Services and Chief Curator. “This opportunity to enhance the visitor experience at The Hermitage will better allow our audience to go back in time and understand the life and times of President Jackson.”

The grant was given through the Institute’s Museums for America program (MFA), which supports projects that allow an individual museum to better serve its public in one of three categories: Learning Experiences, Community Anchors or Collections Stewardship. The project qualified under Learning Experiences, which supports the efforts of museums to create meaningful, inclusive educational opportunities that incorporate experiential learning, discovery, critical thinking and problem solving.

IMLS awarded grants to 206 institutions through the Museums for America program this year, totaling $21,149,000. Grants range from $25,000 to $150,000. The award is roughly on average with peer institutions that also received grants through MFA, including the Missouri History Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Andrew Jackson Foundation will match the grant with nonfederal funds to cover the actual cost of the project.

“This is a substantial project by Foundation that will lead to improvements in service, interpretive methods and inclusiveness,” said Jason Nelson, Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Over the next two years a team of staff, consultants and scholars will work together to develop a plan that will shape what and how visitors learn. The process includes a panel of Jackson scholars to review ways to incorporate recent scholarship into Hermitage programming, and visits to other museums that are successfully carrying out interactive and experiential learning for multi-generational audiences. The Foundation as also hired visitor studies firm Randi Korn and Associates to develop surveys and interviews to identify what visitors are looking for in a visit to The Hermitage. Max van Balgooy, president of Engaging Places LLC and a leader in historical interpretation and community engagement, is facilitating the process and will complete the final report.