March 25, 2021

“This was a great opportunity for us to organize our resources and rediscover hidden gems while making everything accessible and usable for our audiences.”
– Lynda Kennedy, MS Ed, PhD, Vice President, Education & Evaluation, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

A female educator sitting at a desk in a museum.
An educator explores the museum using a tablet to communicate with students during a remote learning session. (Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Museum)

The Intrepid Museum maintains its American military and maritime exhibits within a collection of ships, including the aircraft carrier Intrepid, at Pier 86 along the Hudson River. The museum brings history to life through original artifacts, historic video footage and interactive exhibits. It has also spent decades providing educational support to schools, libraries, and community centers in New York City and the surrounding area.

Now, thanks to funding from an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) CARES Act Grant for Museums and Libraries, Intrepid is developing easily accessible resources that will be shared throughout the state to support virtual education programming for approximately 12,000 New York residents over the span of two years. Specifically, it is using the grant to leverage the collection and its National Historic Landmark site to provide resources and programs for all ages exploring the intersection of science, engineering, and history.

These virtual education programs and resources will be geared toward high-need audiences of different ages and abilities. Resource formats will be modified to accommodate:

  • K–12 student groups
  • Family audiences
  • Individuals with autism or developmental disabilities
  • Seniors
  • Speakers of other languages

Providing an Accessible Future

A classroom view of a remote learning session from the decks of Intrepid.
A remote learning session from the decks of Intrepid. (Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Museum)

This CARES Act award builds on the museum’s ongoing work and deep experience in working with people with disabilities and creating resources that are fully accessible. In addition to supporting content learning, this new project—The Intrepid Reach: Creating Access to Quality Content—aims to contribute to the overall social-emotional wellbeing of diverse audiences and provide opportunities for social connections amongst program participants.

“As an early adopter of distance learning, Intrepid is used to offering virtual programming,” said Lynda Kennedy, MS Ed, PhD, Vice President of Education & Evaluation at Intrepid. “In addition, our education department has a specially trained team of educators who have worked to adapt programs for participants with cognitive, physical, and developmental disabilities in the past.”

To reach a broader audience and connect communities, Intrepid will share project materials and resources with local and state library systems to address capacity challenges that some are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources will also be accessible on the museum’s website for audiences who prefer to experience these programs at their own pace.

With the support from the IMLS CARES grant, Intrepid’s education team has worked with curators, as well as collections and exhibits colleagues, to make better, smarter use of their resources in supporting communities throughout the wider New York State, both during and after the pandemic.

“Through recent survey feedback, we learned that teachers, librarians, and Out of School Time (OST) providers expressed a particular interest for resources that were easy to follow for individuals, teachers, and instructors without specialized science, engineering, or history training,” Kennedy explained. “They were also interested in materials that highlighted those who are still not represented well in textbooks, including women; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community; and people with disabilities.”

Museum image for communicating to school and library partners that virtual programs were available as the pandemic took hold.
(Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Museum)

To address these needs, Intrepid is developing educator-ready resource sets for virtual teaching on 20 distinct multidisciplinary topics. Within each set will be adaptations for at least three audience types, resulting in 60 resources sets being developed overall. Some will be geared toward an instructor (teacher, librarian, or OST educator) leading a group, while others will work best for individuals who want to explore on their own. Still others will help learners of diverse ages and abilities, developed with input from the intended end users.

Collaborating with city-funded Language Access Interns, Intrepid has already translated many materials and resources into Spanish. While the restrictions under the pandemic prohibited in-person programming, the education team increased virtual offerings; making use of the museum’s digital assets such as the Google Arts & Culture site; made program recordings for library partners; offered programs to schools; and in some cases, developed and distributed activity packets.

Making use of free, readily available platforms such as Flipgrid, Adobe Spark, or Padlet will allow program participants to share their work, reflections, or discoveries. Kennedy explained that they will follow up with sites that use the materials over the next two years so that they can make adjustments and respond to a continually changing situation.

More to Come

First slide of an image deck which is part of the IMLS supported resource set focused on work on board ship.
(Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Museum)

At this point in the grant cycle, Intrepid has prepared six resource sets and is currently gathering feedback from representatives of the intended audiences. They will be sharing the finished resources through an online landing page that will be shared locally through their partners in the three library systems serving New York City, community partners, and city agencies, including the New York City Department of Education central office. Statewide, they will be sharing resources through the New York Library Association and organizations such as the New York State Network for Youth Success.

With its reopening on March 25, the museum expects to launch additional content and experiences in the coming months.

About the Project
Grant Project Name: 
The Intrepid Reach: Creating Access to Quality Content
Grant Log Number: CAGML-247144-OMLS-20
Year Awarded: 2020
Recipient: Intrepid Museum Foundation, Inc.
Project Contact:
Lynda Kennedy, MS Ed, PhD
Vice President, Education & Evaluation
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

IMLS CARES Act Grants for Museums and Libraries