By Ronald Hanaki
Located inside the Hoeffner Science and Technology Center, the Schisler Museum of Wildlife & Natural History and McMunn Planetarium hosted its first ever Media Day on Tuesday.
In a major announcement, President Marcia Welsh said that the museum and planetarium will be open to the public beginning Saturday, Apr. 2.
Saturday marks the first day of ESU’s inaugural Global Week taking place Apr. 2-8 on campus.
Welsh said that the museum is host to around 141 taxidermy exhibits that have been donated by ESU alumni from around the world.
The Schisler Museum of Wildlife & Natural History is named after Arthur and Fannie Schisler from ESU’s Class of ‘62.
The Schislers are both big game hunters, and together they have donated many of the animal exhibits that are currently on display.
Arthur Schisler was on hand for the media event.
He said that he spoke to three different college presidents about opening a museum at ESU.
Schisler was effusive in crediting Welsh for making his vision of the wildlife and natural history museum happen.
Welsh noted that several thousand people have visited the museum and planetarium in the last few years.
Both the museum and planetarium have hosted ESU’s art, astronomy, biology and physics classes.
Welsh said that students have been tremendously enriched by the experience of attending the museum and planetarium.
Mary Frances Postupack, Vice President for Economic Development and Research Support, said that many people have said, “‘I never expected that ESU had this kind of resource.’”
Postupack said that ESU has a lot of “you never expected this” and encouraged the public at large to see the wonderful resources that ESU has in the museum and planetarium.
Since last September, Cathy Klingler has been serving as the director of the museum.
Klingler came to ESU after having spent twenty years at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
Her interests include wildlife, programming and community outreach.
“[The museum] has an excellent collection of facilities,” said Klingler.
“Our vision is to be a model for community outreach. We want to be a resource to have conversations about biodiversity issues,” said Klingler.
Klingler mentioned that there is a diorama about the Delaware Water Gap where visitors can learn about its environmental and ecological issues.
“We are all responsible for this global ecological system. We are not separate from it. We are all part of it, and we have to be responsible for it. The museum is a great venue to launch that conversation with the public,” said Klingler.
For now, the museum and planetarium will be open on Saturdays, but in time, Klingler plans to have tours and programs and activities that people can do when they are there.
She sees the activities and events as a way to stimulate repeat visits to the museum and planetarium.
Moreover, Klingler said that she plans to collaborate with Postupack and ESU’s Innovation Center to bring families and corporate sponsors into the fold.
Klingler also stressed the value of memberships.
“People can come visit us at any time, but you can really help support us by becoming members. Members will have a hand in supporting the museum and its mission,” said Klingler.
Looking ahead to Earth Day in April, Klingler said, “I would love to see the museum become a hub and a starting point for a conversation about the environment. We want more community involvement so that we can become a vibrant part of the community.”
Klingler credits the Schislers for their vision.
“It’s astounding what they [the Schislers] were able to donate to the museum so that we can put it together,” said Klingler.
Dr. David Buckley, professor of physics, has been running the McMunn Planetarium since it first opened in 2008.
“Our goal is to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We will continue to educate our own students with astronomy and astrophysics,” said Buckley.
“The planetarium is a great resource that not enough students know about, but now that we have regular hours, more students can see what is going on here,” said Buckley.
Alexandra Machrone is the program coordinator at the museum and also an undergraduate biology student.
“I’d like to see us open to the public from people all over, not just the Poconos because we have so much to offer. It’s already been evolving, and it’s getting even bigger,” said Machrone.
“The museum can be used for all types of majors,” continued Machrone. “Of course, the value for biology students is obvious, but art classes have drawn animals and have made morphs of animals together.”
Beginning Apr. 2, the Schisler Museum and McMunn Planetarium will be open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The admission is six dollars for adults. For children between the ages of three and seventeen years old and senior citizens 60 years and older, the admission is four dollars.
ESU students with a valid eCard and children under three are admitted for free.
Pre-registered groups get $1 off the price of admission.
The museum and planetarium will also be open for special events and rentals.
Those seeking more information should contact Cathy Klingler at email@example.com or call 570-422-2705.
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