Hands-on and open-door are among the watchwords for the "Day at the Museum" event, which will be held on Saturday, May 7, and will feature the University's multitude of museums, part of a community consortium known as University District Museums.
The event is free, open to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to Garrett Barmore, curator and director of one of the participating museums, the W.M. Keck Museum in the Mackay School of Mines Building, "Day at the Museum" is an opportunity to raise the public's awareness of the vast array of collections, displays and history that are contained with the University's District Museums.
"We've been part of the University's outreach to the community for more than 100 years," Barmore said of the Keck, which is 108 years old. He then quickly rattled off other University assets or organizations located on campus that, like the Keck, have been in operation for many years, such as the Nevada Historical Society, which dates back to 1904, Special Collections in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, which dates back more than a half-century, and the Planetarium, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. "And really, this event is a way to not only reach out to the community and invite the community onto our campus ... it's a way of showing that these buildings, these museums and special places, are part of a long tradition of connection with our community.
"Much of this tradition has to do with inspiration. I think what we do, at our very best, is inspire the people - school children, college students, old and young from our community - to learn more about the stories and the information that we share."
During "Day at the Museum," visitors will be able to see thousands of interesting objects, such as the Keck's priceless silver collection, rare rocks and minerals, and, at other museum locations, collections of the natural world such as insects and animals and plants from the Great Basin, as well as some of the oldest and most historic collections of photography, writing and printing that date back to before Nevada officially became a state.
Barmore said the event should draw several hundred people to campus. In addition to touring the various participating museums, there will be food trucks on campus as well as educational and outreach displays provided by the University's Arboretum Board.
"It's an event that appeals to everybody," Barmore said. "Families, as well as individuals, are all welcome."
He added that in the case of the Keck, the underlying message to all visitors always revolves around the museum's long and rich history.
"History is something you can't buy, and it's a philosophy that we definitely work to embrace," he said. "We're constantly trying to embrace that history, while at the same time embracing the best practices of a modern museum."
Barmore said one of the highlights for him during "Day at the Museum" is the freedom that visitors enjoy, roaming the campus and wandering in and out areas that they might normally believe to be closed to the public. These areas are usually not closed to the public, and to see people discovering this fact harkens back to Barmore's feelings about people becoming inspired by what they see in the University's museums.
"We're open to the public," he said. "That's one of the great benefits of this event. People get to see, first-hand, that these wonderful, special spaces are open and available to them. To see them make that sort of discovery is a great thing."
And, Barmore added, he's always heartened by the number of volunteers who step forward to help on such a day, when the museums are buzzing with activity and interest.
"We swap and share a little bit," he said of the participating museums' use of volunteers. "It's a busy day, but it's an extremely rewarding day. Anytime you're reaching out to the community and the community responds by visiting, it's a good day for any museum."
In addition to the "Day at the Museum," there are also regular hours during the week that the University's museums are open to the public. At the Keck, this has stretched to the weekend - the museum is also open the first Saturday of each month, from noon to 4 p.m.
Museums participating in the Day at the Museum are (along with college or organization overseeing it):
W. M. Keck Museum -- College of Science
Museum of Natural History -- College of Science & College of Ag
Anthropology Museum -- College of Liberal Arts
University Arboretum -- Arboretum Board
Church Fine Arts -- College of Liberal Arts
Special Collections and Archives -- University Libraries
Black Rock Press -- College of Liberal Arts
Fleischmann Planetarium - College of Extended Studies
Nevada Historical Society -- Nevada Department of Tourism
History of Medicine Room -- Medical School/University Libraries
Wilbur D. May Museum -- Washoe County Parks and Recreation Department
For more information about the event, call Garrett Barmore, museum curator at the W.M. Keck Museum, 784-4528. More information about the museums and a map showing the museums is available at www.unr.edu/museums