2019 Impact Report
What’s the Measure of Success?
As we look back over a momentous year, it’s time to take stock of the ways we fulfill our promise to you. The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium is here to inspire wonder and curiosity about the natural world. How are we doing? In addition to giving you our financial and visitor breakdown, this report focuses on the rich content that informs our community discussions as well as some of the actions we’ve taken to invest in the values of the Fairbanks Museum.
We’re grateful for your trust. This report lets you know how your support upholds the mission and vision of this museum – where your contributions are at work and why. Thank you so very much for contributing to this amazing institution.
We hope you’ll let us know what you think about our accomplishments during 2019, and we welcome your involvement in exciting plans for the years ahead.
Ed Vilandrie, Chair, Board of Trustees
Adam Kane, Executive Director
Tightening Our Energy Belt
We worked with Efficiency Vermont to button-up our McGuire Center, which houses our STEM Lab, administrative offices, Eye on the Sky recording booth, and conference room. Building on the 2018 installation of cold climate heat pumps, improvements included a new heat pump water heater, more efficient air intake system for the furnace, foam sill insulation, vapor barrier over crawlspaces and new interior storm windows.
Return: reduced carbon emissions, making our air a little cleaner
Overcoming Transportation Troubles
The “Passumpsic Bank Portable Planetarium” arrived in early July, and it’s been inspiring stargazers across Vermont ever since. This mobile presentation allows us to bring one of the most in-demand facets of the Museum – our astronomy expertise – to communities that lack resources to visit our Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium. We’re also delivering on a promise to be smarter about program delivery by reducing dependence on costly busses.
Return: Time, money, and fossil fuels saved while more kids in more communities experience the awe of an immersive planetarium.
Invitations to Explore
We launched a Lifelong Learning series to encourage community connections and offer hands-on learning outside of schools. These workshops bring local expertise in birding, beer brewing, cheese making and more to adults who want to delve into practical topics related to natural sciences.
Return: New audiences engage in informative workshops that deliver science content as well as a chance to get to know your neighbors
Our summer season continues to flourish with programs and exhibits that create new reasons to visit and come back! From the Shippee Family Eye Care Butterfly House (June – September) to our original Kingdom Taproom Build It! Lab, seasonal exhibits invite guests to explore and experiment. A special exhibit and event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar landing told the story of space travel through the decades. A busy calendar of summer camps hosted kids from pre-K through high school in our Balch Nature School and STEM Lab, while Franklin’s Guides helped interpret displays.
Return: Thousands of visitors were drawn to the Fairbanks Museum from communities near and far, creating a lively cultural hub in the heart of St. Johnsbury
A Little Edgy
We imbibed Vermont and New Hampshire’s growing craft brew industry with our own science-themed beer events. The Chemistry of Beer workshop and the Brew Moon Brewfest opened the Museum to new audiences while highlighting the science that goes into creating our region’s world-class beers.
Return: New audiences and new ways to think about science.
A Trip to Museum!
We met with over 200 educators and administrators this summer and fall to hear how they wanted their students to interact with the Museum. We learned so much, and are busy putting it into practice. A trip to the Museum has been a fieldtrip staple for generations of students, and we’re keen to keep, grow and adapt that tradition for the future.
Return: A mind expanding and curriculum supporting experience for 11,000 students each year.
The vertical lift that brings people to our planetarium makes good on a long-held dream to make our unique facility accessible to everyone. The lift was installed in January, and we celebrated with a launch party that paid tribute to our historic building and modern innovation. This project allowed us to replace decades-old wooden benches with plush, movable seats.
Return: Access for all to Vermont’s only public planetarium
Our Wildflower Table is one of the legacy displays that first appeared in 1903, offering a colorful collection of blooms with common and Latin identification. This live exhibit involves a team of dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers who collect specimen twice a week; however the living plants also carry hitchhikers -- uninvited insects that can be harmful to our collections. To follow Museum best-practice, the Wildflower Table now has its own, dedicated space in the original director’s office, which got a make-over that revealed an ornate, carved fireplace and hardwood floor.
Return: Elegant, Victorian display now contained in a space that reflects this era
Collections and Displays
Our commitment to keeping the artifacts in our care in good condition allows us to refresh displays and cycle objects that have been in storage back in view. Most of this work happens behind closed doors in our collections facility, where we worked with conservators to mend, update, and safeguard hummingbird, woodpecker, black bear, antelope, and rattlesnake mounts. In 2019, we refreshed three alcove displays, reinterpreting artifacts from China and Japan, as well as musical instruments from around the world. Each alcove, especially musical instruments, has associated audio tour stops. We also showed some love to the lions that guard our entryway with polish and patina to keep them looking fabulous for another 100 years.
Return: Keeping the treasures in our care in great shape, for you and generations to come to enjoy.
2019 by the numbers
- 34,828 people visited for programs, exhibits, or classes.
- 4,995 students came with schools groups.
- 2,508 children came outside of school groups.
- 2,690 seniors visited.
- 6,425 people toured the cosmos in our planetarium.