FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2015
The new Ford W. Bell Fellow will unite museums to create a brighter future
WASHINGTON, DC –Today, the American Alliance of Museums announces the founding of the Ford W. Bell Fellowship for Museums and K-12 Education. The new fellowship—established to honor the legacy of retiring Alliance President Dr. Ford W. Bell—will empower the museum field to shape the future of K-12 education in the US.
The Ford W. Bell Fellow will work within the Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums, under the leadership of Founding Director Elizabeth Merritt, to help museums increase their educational impact on the public through personalized, self-directed, passion-based, experiential learning.
“This Fellowship honors Dr. Bell’s extraordinary commitment to museums and education, and it enables us to boldly begin a new chapter at the Alliance, focused on being part of the vibrant learning grid—a key imperative for our entire field. This is a top priority for me as we begin this exciting new era,” said Laura L. Lott, incoming Alliance president and CEO.
When Bell became the leader of the Alliance in 2007, one of his first acts was to launch the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) to help the field navigate the shifting tides of the 21st century and create a better future for their communities.
Among the many trends and projections mapped by CFM in its first eight years, one forecast stood out: US museums have the opportunity to change the world by improving the learning landscape for America’s children. CFM, with the support of the Ford W. Bell Fellow, will ensure museum resources are used to their fullest advantage in the 21st century.
“We are on the cusp of transformative change in the US learning landscape, and museums have the opportunity, through advocacy and action, to help create a more equitable and successful educational system in which they play a starring role,” Merritt said.
Building on the groundwork laid by CFM’s seminal report, Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem, the Ford W. Bell Fellow will:
- disrupt conventional dialogue: promote ideas that disrupt conventional thinking about education and expand conception of the educational landscape
- create systemic change: instigate innovative experiments that increase the role museums play in education
- spread the word: compile and share information needed to guide planning and decision making by museums, educators and learners
Through the Fellowship, the Alliance will:
- pilot projects to help communities integrate museums into the local learning ecosystem
- develop strategies to foster innovative experimentation by individual museums
- compile and disseminate case studies
- identify existing, high-performing digital platforms that aggregate and distribute educational content
- conduct research to fill gaps in our knowledge regarding the outcomes of museums’ contributions to education
To support the work of the fellow, the Alliance has launched a crowdfunding campaign http://www.razoo.com/story/museumsarethefuture.
The first Ford W. Bell Fellow will be appointed by January 1, 2016.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ALLIANCE OF MUSEUMS
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 23,000 individual, nearly 4,000 institutional and 300 corporate members, the Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.