Montgomery receives NEH award

The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) is pleased to announce that its recent proposal submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) was selected to receive project funding. Within the category of Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations Planning Grants, NEH awarded PRI with $60,000 to plan and develop a traveling exhibition that will share the challenges and triumphs of the women – past and present – who strived for equality in the field of paleontology. This particular category at NEH has a funding ratio of just 9 percent.

For hundreds of years, American women have contributed to the field of paleontology, from the detailed drawings of Cecilia Beaux to the innovative ideas of Esther Applin. Unfortunately, however, these contributions have never received the wide recognition of those made by men. Women’s paleontological work was frequently unpublished, or published without adequately acknowledging their contribution. Even after the idea of women pursuing higher education and careers was considered socially acceptable, women were frequently discouraged from entering science in general, and the Earth sciences in particular. Even today, women comprise only 23% of the membership of the Paleontological Society, the leading U.S. professional organization in the field.

Beginning this October, PRI exhibits and education staff will lead a team of historians, scientists, and educators to research historic artifacts and specimens, develop the exhibit’s stories, plan public programs, and begin preliminary exhibition design.

The project team includes:

Michele Aldrich, California Academy of Sciences

Warren Allmon, Paleontological Research Institution

Paul Brinkman, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Sandra Carlson, University of California, Davis

Jane Davidson, University of Nevada, Reno

Linda Deck, Bradbury Science Museum

Julie Fick, Michigan State University Museum

Richard Kissel, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

Georgina Montgomery, Michigan State University

Rob Ross, Paleontological Research Institution

Beth Stricker, Paleontological Research Institution

We will also be working with exhibit developer Ed Mooney of emDESIGN, and visitor study specialists from Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.

At the end of this planning stage, the project team will apply for additional grants, which would fund the final design and fabrication of the exhibition. The 5,000 square foot exhibition will travel to participating institutions, and then would be available to other museums across the country as part of the Museum of the Earth’s Traveling Exhibitions Program.