The wonders of Nevada, the world and the University are on display in 12 museums scattered on and around campus.
"Who knew there are 12 museums in the University district?" Cheryll Glotfelty, English professor and University of Nevada, Reno Arboretum Board chair, said. "Reno has a long history of attracting tourists for popular entertainment such as prize fighting, gambling and quickie marriage. It is exciting to see Reno extend its menu of tourist attractions to include this fascinating variety of museums."
Glotfelty is one of 12 members of a new consortium of museums on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The arboretum, which encompasses the entire campus, joins the list of museums and exhibit spaces.
To bring attention to the high concentration of museums available to Reno, the group decided to open its doors, all at once, for the community to enjoy the various collections. They are doing just that on Saturday, May 2 with the Day at the Museum event.
"The genius behind the museum consortium is to realize that tourists and residents also enjoy history, natural history, science, engineering and culture," she said.
The consortium's mission is to unify the many museums and outreach opportunities on campus to showcase the University as a center of arts and culture in Nevada.
"The number of museums on and around campus reflects the Nevada culture that we celebrate and embrace on campus," Garrett Barmore, curator and director of the W. M. Keck Museum, said. "We may all be separate entities, but we can focus on our strengths. By forming a consortium we can share those strengths and for the first time work together."
"This also helps to bridge the gap between the University and the greater Reno community," Barmore said.
The group of museum curators came together after the University's new Museum of Natural History directors sought advice from others on campus on how best to organize their collections and make them available to the public.
"One of our goals is for University scholars and students to interface with the public, to make the public aware of the resources and wonders available to students and researchers." Chris Feldman, assistant professor of biology and co-director of the Museum of Natural History, said. "When we were talking with Garrett the idea bubbled up about bringing all the museums together so people could enjoy and learn about Nevada, arts, sciences, the world, outer space - an amazing array of topics."
Visitors can see thousands of unique items, such as a priceless silver collection, rare and beautiful rocks and minerals, a meteorite from outer space, a collection of insects, animals and plants from around the Great Basin and the world, stunning artwork, a working museum housing printing presses from different eras, some of the oldest collections in Nevada dating back as far as the 1850s and medical artifacts used in Nevada, just to name a few.
"The collaboration allows us to share our resources and knowledge and help each other grow and excel in our individual missions," Donnelyn Curtis, head of special collections and director of research collections and services at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, said. "Some of the campus museums serve researchers as their primary users, but we all have an additional mission to serve the larger community and enhance the cultural life of Reno families and individuals. We think they will be amazed at what is tucked away in the museums on this campus."
"The Day at the Museum not only informs the public about these valuable cultural resources, but makes them all available in a single day," Glotfelty said. "You might think of the event as a non-alcoholic museum crawl."
All of the museums, except the Wilbur D. May Museum, are located on campus, and all are within a mile of each other. Visitors are encouraged to walk from museum to museum to enjoy the beauty and history of the campus, which is a designated arboretum and recognized as a Tree Campus USA with collections of trees and shrubs. The community oriented event also features a tree treasure-hunt, hands-on activities and giveaways. The self-guided tour can begin at any of the participating museums scattered around the campus
The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is geared towards K-12 school children and their parents, and includes free admission to most of the venues. Parking is free on campus for this event.
"The event allows us to open our doors and share our treasures with people who don't ordinarily spend time on campus and who may not know about all the wonderful art, artifacts, specimens and local history materials that are available to them for their own purposes," Curtis said.
"The campus museums are not just for University students and faculty," Glotfelty said. "They are a valuable resource for all ages and for the entire community. We hope that this event will help to put the University District museums on people's radar and encourage people to visit our museums all year."
The museums participating in the Day at the Museum are:
- W. M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum in the Mackay School of Mines Building
- Museum of Natural History in the Fleischmann Agriculture building
- Special Collections and Archives in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
- University Galleries in the Church Fine Arts building
- Nevada Historical Society
- Fleischmann Planetarium
- College of Engineering K-12 Teaching Lab in the Jot Travis building
- Wilbur D. May Museum at Rancho San Rafael Park
- University of Nevada, Reno Arboretum
- Anthropology Research Museum in the Ansari Business building
- Black Rock Press in the Jot Travis building
- Great Basin History of Medicine Museum in Savitt Medical Library, Pennington Medical Education building.
For more information call Garrett Barmore, museum curator at the W. M. Keck Museum at 775-784-4528. More information about the museums and a map showing the museums is available at www.unr.edu/museums.