Point of Beginning

Sight Lines: Surveying Museum Explores New Outreach Ideas

December 6, 2011

What kind of impact would $208 per month have on the public’s perception of the surveying profession?

That’s one of the questions being pondered by Robert E. Church, treasurer of the National Museum of Surveying (NMoS) located in Springfield, Ill. Church, who is also a museum trustee, is pleased with the progress that has been made since the museum first opened to the public in September 2010. The museum boasts NOAA’s popular Science on a Sphere, an interactive multimedia exhibit that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data on a 6-foot-diameter sphere to create a giant animated globe, as well as a fascinating collection of stories, murals and equipment displays. It has hosted numerous school groups and private events, and it was recently the recipient of the 2011 Springfield Mayor’s Preservation Award for Educational Efforts that Advance the Preservation and Understanding of Our Historic Heritage.

But Church has a vision for a much wider outreach in the months and years to come. “I would like to launch a series of Saturday morning education classes that would give young people a better understanding of the profession through games and activities in a nearby park,” he says. “I also envision the creation of a new exhibit that would provide visitors with a hands-on experience using a variety of surveying equipment, from a compass and chain to robotic GPS, total stations and laser scanners. Another element I would like to add is a computer lab that would show how surveying is fundamental to the GIS that is so firmly embedded in every aspect of our lives.”

Such activities, Church says, would further the museum’s basic goals of helping the public understand why surveying is important today, educating them about what surveyors do, and getting young people interested in the profession.

Church notes that achieving these objectives and realizing the broader vision requires continued support from the profession. “If every licensed surveyor donated just $20, we would be able to pay off our mortgage and use our funding for education programs,” he says.

Beyond that, Church would like to see every state association give $2,500 each year to support the museum-or approximately $208 per month. “It’s a minimal investment with an immeasurable return,” he says.

Professionals can also help support the museum by sharing stories about how surveyors were involved in their state history. The museum plans to use these stories to enrich the experience of visitors as they tour the murals and equipment displays.

“Interest in the National Museum of Surveying continues to grow,” Church says, “We have a valuable opportunity to strengthen our profession through the museum’s exhibits and outreach, and we need to take advantage of it.”

For more information about the National Museum of Surveying and to find out how to donate or get involved, visit www.surveyingmuseum.org .