The Koret Foundation (the “Foundation”) has awarded the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley a 1:1 matching challenge grant of $300,000 to support the renovation of the Museum’s Gallery Learning Center.
The award was made by the San Francisco-based foundation as part of its $50 million multi-year initiative in support of twelve Bay Area higher education institutions, including UC Berkeley, which submitted an ‘omnibus’ proposal on behalf of several unit stakeholders. “The Koret University Partners Initiative will provide significant funding to improve student success and build long term capacity [..],” noted the Foundation’s press release.
Equipped with leading-edge technologies, such as virtual reality kiosks capable of showcasing the latest UC Berkeley research findings, the Center will serve as the Hearst’s main externally-facing portal for public engagement when it comes online in early 2017.
With the anticipated launch of the new gallery, Hearst Museum Director Benjamin Porter—a Berkeley faculty member and archaeologist working in the Middle East—pointed to the vital surge in support that such a matching award can bring.
“As the Museum enters the final phase of its gallery campaign, this thoughtful challenge grant will help position the Hearst as a destination where a ‘tech-loaded’ discovery zone of cultural exploration awaits the visitor.” Museumgoers will experience some of the Hearst’s 3.8 million objects in their original context using the latest virtual reality technologies. “Students from all backgrounds—from Berkeley undergraduates to K-12 groups—will also be able to use the Learning Center to develop their own virtual reality projects,” continued Professor Porter.
In line with founder Phoebe Hearst's pioneering work to promote learning opportunities for all, the Center will allow visitors to access the Hearst’s collections and enhance critical thinking skills by encouraging visitors’ own perspectives and histories. More specifically, the Center is set up as an interactive space where ‘users’ from among the Bay Area’s richly diverse audiences can get involved in inquiry-based learning and raise their own research questions to understand the processes by which knowledge is created and contested.