WOW! Children's Museum Awarded Museums for America Grant from IMLS

Lafayette, Colorado – WOW! Children’s Museum is pleased to announce that the Museum has received a $33,780 Museums for America federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  This grant will enable WOW! to fabricate, install, and evaluate Forest of Light, a new inclusive exhibit that encourages play between young children of all abilities.  Forest of Light will be welcoming and engaging for both neurotypical children and those with autism or sensory processing disorders, and will educate parents and caregivers on the benefits of sensory rich environments for child development.  Forest of Light is scheduled to open at WOW! in Summer 2018.


“Forest of Light developed from the popularity of our Sensory Friendly Playtime program.  This is a private time for children with autism spectrum or sensory processing disorders to enjoy the museum with their families.  Admission is limited and lights and sounds are turned down to create a calmer environment than the typical Museum experience.  The popularity of the Playtimes as well as feedback from Museum visitors, indicated a community need for a sensory friendly space within the Museum.  Having a calm, quiet play space will benefit all children who may become overstimulated during their Museum visit.  We worked with local occupational therapists who provided valuable feedback on activities that would be engaging for all children and the Forest of Light concept emerged,” said Jennifer Hinderliter, Executive Director, WOW! Children’s Museum.


The Museums for America grant program supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. The program’s three project categories are learning experiences, community anchors, and collections stewardship.  This year IMLS received 558 applications requesting $104,538,159. Of these, IMLS selected 132 projects to receive funding totaling $19,189,929.  WOW! Children’s Museum is one of four museums in Colorado to receive a 2017 Museums for America grant.


“We are so grateful to IMLS for seeing the merit in Forest of Light and providing funding to make the exhibit a reality.  The IMLS grant funds, combined with $20,000 from the Dodge Family Fund covers 73% of the funding needed for the total project.  We will continue to fundraise for the remaining $20,000 and hope that individuals and organizations from the community will pledge their financial support for this meaningful new Museum experience,” said Jennifer Hinderliter.


“Museums for America is instrumental in helping museums of all disciplines, all sizes, and all budgets across the country address opportunities identified by their organization as central to achieving their missions,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “It is humbling to read the many applications about the varied ways museums are improving quality of life in communities large and small, and responsibly caring for culturally significant objects.”


To get involved with Forest of Light or to pledge financial support, contact Jennifer Hinderliter, Executive Director.


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About WOW! Children’s Museum:

WOW! Children's Museum engages all families in hands-on, educational experiences that connect curiosity, creativity, and discovery. For more information visit:  Follow WOW! Children’s Museum on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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