Sam Noble museum aims for higher student turnout
For many, The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is another scenic building en route to Lloyd Noble Center, but for its staff, the museum is an institution for educating the community, a museum spokeswoman said.
The museum aims to provide a learning atmosphere for its patrons, museum spokeswoman Linda Coldwell said.
“One of our primary focuses is education — very informal, experiential education so that people can come in here and learn about the heritage of Oklahoma as well as the science behind the artifacts,” Coldwell said.
Since opening in May 2000, the museum has grown large enough to accommodate six permanent galleries, new and interesting exhibits and more than seven million collected objects, making it the official state repository of all natural history artifacts.
Despite this collection, one of the most notable features of the museum is the world’s largest Apatosaurus skeleton, Coldwell said.
“Dinosaurs are the big draw, particularly for kids and family. That’s what we’re known for,” she said.
The museum has one of the largest research departments at the university with professional curators collaborating with graduate and undergraduate students in many areas of study.
In addition to these opportunities, the museum offers several volunteer and internship positions; however, student participation and attendance remains low, Coldwell said.
“We definitely don’t get as many (students) as we would like,” Coldwell said, “Although we’re on the path, the museum’s not too close to campus so it’s a little bit more effort to get out here.”
In an effort to generate more interest, the museum allows OU student organizations, departments and individuals to rent its facilities for anything from award ceremonies to childrens’ birthday parties. Though when it comes to discounts and booking inquiries, classroom lectures and weddings are two of the most popular events held at the museum, she said.
“We do weddings more than anything. We love it when we get OU grads or even current students to come in. They’re having their wedding here on campus, where they more than likely met, so it’s great,” special events coordinator Dejak Kennedy said.
As classes begin this semester, museum staff and curators hope to draw in more students by featuring new programs like next month’s wine and chocolate tasting seminar.
“You will never not know what’s going on at the museum,” Coldwell said, “We want students to come, because at the core of all of this is education. That is our mission. Every bit of the heritage that is preserved here belongs to the people of Oklahoma.”
More info: Hours — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays