WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2019
The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the professional association for science centers and museums, will honor five of its member organizations and two ASTC-member professionals during the 2019 ASTC Annual Conference in Toronto, September 21–24.
Now in their 15th year, the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards are presented annually by ASTC to recognize extraordinary accomplishments in business practice, visitor experience, and leadership in science centers and museums around the globe. Sponsored by Group Delphi, the “Edgie” awards honor the late Roy L. Shafer, a former science center director, ASTC president, organizational coach, and mentor to many institutions and people in the science center and museum field. A 14-member jury of science center and museum professionals reviewed and selected the award recipients.
A new award category for 2019, The Overcomer, celebrates an ASTC-member science center or museum that has successfully surmounted a significant and specific challenge. The first Leading Edge Overcomer Award goes to the American Museum of Science & Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which needed to move from its beloved but aging, 54,000-square-foot facility into a new, 18,000-square-foot new space, with state-of-the-art new exhibits . To engage its community in the move, the museum developed extensive new collaborations and partnerships that melded a science-rich local history, civic pride, culture, and enthusiasm for STEM engagement into something uniquely Oak Ridge. Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, community leaders, museum professionals and volunteers were enlisted to help design the new, smaller space and create five new, locally flavored, with globally significant science exhibitions and a home for the most popular and engaging interactive stations from the old building. Working with the local scientific, historical, cultural, tourism, and community organizations, the museum co-created new festivals, spaces for community groups to exhibit their works every three months, and events featuring scientists with connections to the community. This new approach has launched the museum on a new course to becoming a hub in a “hub and spoke” heritage and science tourism ecosystem that includes other important science and history sites in the region and to being a premiere destination the community takes pride in.
This exceptional recognition by an international jury of peers speaks volumes to the museum staff, volunteers, board members, and community partners who make the American Museum of Science and Energy the incredible museum it is. We are especially grateful to the Oak Ridge Department of Energy professionals. It’s our honor to say, “Thank you” to the guests and visitors who share this museum with us.