SMALL MUSEUM, LARGE IMPACT: THE ROLE OF THE DUNN-SEILER MUSEUM'S UNIVERSITY EXHIBITIONS IN PROMOTING PUBLIC GEOLITERACY
In the first stage of the Dunn-Seiler’s history, the museum’s role was to store the research specimens, and display some of the geological objects within the university setting. The museum then transitioned to present specimens using best practices in informal learning for effective geoscience education and improved public geoliteracy of museum visitors. While general earth science literacy principles are addressed, many museum displays also focus upon the local Cretaceous landscape and the commonly found fossils in the area.
Within the last decade, the museum further expanded its presence beyond its display space to include additional informal learning opportunities. Our participation with US National Fossil Day, Earth Day network, Darwin Day, and Cargo for Conservation also ensures that the museum capitalizes on the resources available at the national level. Through our museum displays, public events, and K-12 art, story, and recycling competitions, we address biodiversity, extinction, geologic time, evolution, and conservation—promoting public geoliteracy in language respectful to the local community. Therefore, the Dunn-Seiler Museum now successfully bridges two communities: the research of faculty scientists, and the public’s general understanding of earth products, events, and concerns. While the museum’s role at the forefront of geology was initially in its storage and display of research specimens, its role has expanded to communicate geology for improved public understanding.