The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will operate the Lafayette Science Museum in partnership with Lafayette Consolidated Government.
Under terms of the agreement announced on Thursday, the educational facility will be renamed the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Science Museum. UL Lafayette’s plans for the downtown museum include expanded, cross-disciplinary exhibitions, enhanced programs and resources to engage learners of all ages, a café, gift shop, and public event rental options.
The University already has a presence within the museum. The School of Geosciences has operated the UL Lafayette Geology Museum there since 2013 under an intergovernmental agreement with Lafayette Consolidated Government.
Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, called the new operational agreement “a natural evolution of the relationship we’ve had with LCG and the museum for nearly a decade.”
“Partnering with LCG to operate the facility increases the University’s visibility in the downtown area and deepens our connection with the community. It advances our outreach mission by enabling the public to learn of – and learn from – the significant research being done here,” Savoie said.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory said the LCG-University partnership “will enrich downtown Lafayette’s status as a cultural and educational destination.”
“UL Lafayette’s current footprint within the museum has strengthened the interactive experiences and immersive learning opportunities the facility offers students of all ages,” Guillory added. “Acadiana residents and visitors from around the world will benefit from the University’s exceptional stewardship of the museum’s operations, programs and exhibitions resulting from this enhanced collaboration.”
Dr. Azmy S. Ackleh is dean of UL Lafayette’s Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, which will oversee the science museum’s operations. He noted that many universities in the U.S. operate museum and archival facilities in cooperation with government entities.
“Top-tier universities like UL Lafayette create partnerships such as these because they are effective in bringing scientific research to the public through compelling programs, activities and educational experiences that encourage interest in STEM disciplines and foster a lifelong love of learning,” Ackleh said.
“They also provide excellent engagement and recruitment opportunities,” through lectures and workshops, and by highlighting student and faculty research through public events, “all of which this partnership with LCG will enable us to do and that private contributions will help us enhance,” Ackleh said.
The University’s geology museum housed within the science museum has more than 2,000 square feet of exhibit space, and a 1,500-square-foot vertebrate paleontology lab for students and faculty.
Dr. Jennifer Hargrave said the LCG-University partnership enables an expansion to include exhibits and information from the College of Sciences’ other disciplines. Hargrave is the UL Lafayette Science Museum’s director and a senior instructor in the School of Geosciences.
“In addition to providing the dynamic exhibits our visitors are accustomed to seeing in the museum, we plan to offer programs and resources to deliver science for everyone. The partnership between the University and LCG is an opportunity to promote scientific learning and foster curiosity in our community and beyond,” she said.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Science Museum is located at 433 Jefferson St. Visit the museum’s website to find information about exhibits and hours of operation.
As part of the agreement between the University and LCG, the city will retain ownership of the museum building, while proceeds from ticket sales, concessions, gift shop purchases and event rentals will benefit the facility’s operations.
Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Science Museum is seen in a 2015 file photo. It is located at 433 Jefferson St. (Photo credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette)