Friday, February 26, 2010

from the Foundation

When we emailed you in December, we were excited to report the transformative gift by Brainerd and Anne Mears to the University of Wyoming Geological Museum. Thankfully, that gift was matched by Wyoming state matching funds, and the fund now totals $1.4 million.

Another fund was created in 2009—the Geological Museum S. H. Knight Memorial Fund. $74,000 has been raised to date, and this amount is now also eligible for matching funds. “If we can develop an endowment of about $2.5 million,” says Art Snoke, UW Geology and Geophysics Department Head, “then the Geological Museum can have a yearly operating budget of about $100,000.” The hiring of professional personnel, the renovation of displays, and the construction of new displays all hinge on private fundraising and the resulting matching funds in order to successfully reinvent the museum. If we don’t reach this goal, the museum may be hampered by limited hours, antiquated displays, and an undersized staff.

This is where you come in. Your support can make this venerable geological museum a success—consider giving to the Samuel H. Knight Memorial Endowment. With your help, all things are possible. To donate to this fund, go online to or contact Jane Barghothi, Major Gift Officer at the University of Wyoming Foundation, at (307) 766-1803 or

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fundraiding update

UW Geological Museum Accepted into Museum Assessment Program

Feb. 12, 2010 -- Two important deadlines have been outlined in the process of reinventing the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.
The committee charged with reinventing the Geological Museum, comprised of UW faculty and administrators, at the end of 2009 submitted an application to the Museum Assessment Program offered by the American Association of Museums, and it was notified not long after that it had been accepted into the program.
The program is designed to help museums develop plans for effective operations and management - the same task assigned to the committee, headed by UW Geology and Geophysics Department Head Art Snoke.
Both a self-study and a site survey are scheduled to be completed in the first half of the year.
"The Museum Map Assessment Program through the American Association of Museums is designed to provide professional input into how a museum of any size can meet its mission given its financial situation, personnel, physical facilities and display materials," Snoke says. "This type of advice from museum professionals is exactly what the committee needs to move forward with a plan to reinvent the UW Geological Museum."
What comes after that is key to the museum's future success, Snoke says, and it depends on private fundraising.
The museum closed briefly last summer due to budget cuts to public funds, drawing attention from fans of the museum from around the world. When the museum reopened in August with a part-time schedule, it was with the help of private funds from the UW Foundation. Shortly after that, noted UW supporters Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears donated $570,000 to support the museum. Matched by Wyoming state endowment funds, the gift now totals $1.14 million.
A second fund, in memory of noted geologist S.H. Knight, was created later in 2009. To date, $74,000 has been raised, and because of fund matching rules, it is now eligible for matching state funds.
"For the perpetuity and overall success of the museum, it is essential that the available state matching monies associated with the Geological Museum S.H. Knight Memorial Fund are used to their fullest extent. If we can develop an endowment of about $2.5 million, then the Geological Museum can have a yearly operating budget of about $100,000," Snoke says.
"If we don't reach that endowment goal, we will continue to have limited hours, will not be able remodel antiquated displays, and will not be able to hire professional personnel for the museum. We sincerely hope that the supporters of the UW Geological Museum, both individuals and corporations, will step forward with generous financial donations to help us reinvent the Geological Museum."

Please contact the UW Foundation if you can help.

Monday, January 11, 2010

$50K met for matching funds

We have met the $50,000 requirement for receiving matching funds for the reinvented museum. Make your check payable to: SH Knight Memorial Fund, and send it to the UW Foundation, 1200 E. Ivinson, Laramie, WY 82070, and your contribution will be matched.

Update on the museum itself:

1. The museum committee applied for and was accepted into a Museum Assessment Program (MAP) sponsored by American Association of Museums. This process will include evaluation, goal setting and recommendations. It will take about six months to complete. But will help provide direction and a strategic plan for the Geological Museum moving forward.

2. In addition, there are some experts who will be on campus for special events and seminars over the next three months who have agreed to give feedback and thoughts on the museum. This will help (along with MAP) the committee with the next steps for the museum.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Funding for the Reinvented Museum

If you would like to contribute to the fundraising efforts for the reinvented Geological Museum on the University of Wyoming campus, please send your check to:

UW Foundation
SH Knight Memorial Fund
1200 E. Ivinson
Laramie, WY 82070

You can also contribute online. Go to:

Be sure to note where your gift should go.

Friday, November 6, 2009

UW Announces Donation to S.H. Knight Memorial Fund

Nov. 5, 2009 -- An endowment fund to support the UW Geological Museum has been created, and a generous gift to that fund has been announced.

The $8,000 gift of The Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum, founded in the wake of the museum's closure on June 30, is the latest donation to the fund, bringing the total to $18,000. The nonprofit community benefit organization raised money last summer to raise awareness and funds to reopen the Geological Museum.

"The Friends are excited to be working with the university to reopen a fully operational museum," says Kelli Trujillo, one of the Friends of the S.H. Knight Museum.

Through the creation of the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund, all donations to this fund will be doubled by the State of Wyoming match. UW President Tom Buchanan and the UW Board of Trustees have committed to match all donations to the Knight Memorial Fund up to $750,000. The matching starts when the Knight Memorial Fund reaches $50,000.

An additional gift of $10,000 to the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund was made by John and Susan Masterson, both UW alumni and longtime supporters in memory of his parents, James A. and Mary W. Masterson.

"We're delighted with these initial gifts, and what they will help us accomplish for the museum and the university," Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president, says. "With this fund, anyone can donate to support the museum."

The fund will be used to cover a range of costs for the museum, including staff, operations, maintenance and renovations to the museum as a whole as well as to individual exhibits, equipment and supplies related to the museum's missions of teaching, research, display and public outreach.

"We're grateful to those who took the time to let us know how they felt," Chuck Brown, president of the UW Board of Trustees, says. "Without them, we wouldn't have the resources we now have to find the best potential uses of the museum facility."

The establishment of the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund follows the generous gift of Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears earlier this year through the Anne C. and Brainerd Mears, Jr. Excellence Fund for University of Wyoming Geological Museum. They donated $570,000, matched by Wyoming state funds for a total of $1.14 million.

The Mearses referred to their gift as a tribute to the work of "Doc" Knight, who was instrumental in building UW's geology department and who gave his time and work to create the Geological Museum. Upon the designation of their gift the Mearses spoke of the museum's influence on the thousands of people who have visited and enjoyed what it has to offer.

Blalock says the Knight Fund and the Mearses' gift are the foundation of a major fundraising campaign to support the Geological Museum with private funds.

Hand-in-hand with the two funds is the work that's now under way, supervised by Geology and Geophysics Department Head Art Snoke. He leads a committee of UW faculty and administrators that is evaluating the museum and its potential. The result will be a long-term plan for the museum that supports UW's academic mission.

Snoke says the Knight Memorial Fund and the Friends' gift are important steps in achieving self-sustaining private funds for the museum.

"If we are able to raise funds to use all the matching money, we will have $1.5 million in the S.H. Knight Memorial Fund. When this sum is combined with the Mearses' gift, the endowment funds to support the UW Geological Museum will have reached $2.6 million," Snoke says. "In the long term, we hope that even a larger endowment can be built through continued donations from the public and corporations that support the Geological Museum's mission. Such funds could facilitate developing museum displays, renovating the adjacent museum space, and hiring additional staff to carry out the mission of the museum."

These additional goals are now being considered by the task force that's studying the Geological Museum and developing a plan for its future, Snoke says.

The roots of the Geological Museum reach back to 1887, the year the University of Wyoming opened; it was a small natural history museum that consisted of the personal collection of J.D. Conley, a professor who taught a range of courses including geology, astronomy, physics, commercial arithmetic and bookkeeping, among other things.

As UW grew and expanded, so did the museum, its collections and its displays. Wilbur Knight, hired in 1893 as a professor of mining and geology, succeeded Conley as curator of the museum. It was for Knight that the small fossil fish Knightia was named.

Eventually, the collection outgrew its home in the Hall of Language (now Old Main), and most of it found a new one in a wing of the Mechanical Building. When the Hall of Science was completed in 1902, the museum moved there. It stayed there until 1956, when the current structure was built on the east wing of what is now the S.H. Knight Geology Building.

By that time, Knight's son, Samuel Howell Knight, had worked at the university for more than four decades. In that time, he had developed the UW Geology Department into one of the nation's best, and he started the nationally renowned Summer Science Camp -- the camp that brought Nip and Anne Mears to Wyoming. Knight designed the terra cotta bas-relief Stegosaurus and Triceratops panels on the front of the museum, built the copper Tyrannosaurus rex that guards the museum's entrance, and even painted several of the displays inside the museum. He was also responsible for the initial mounting of the Apatosaurus skeleton that is the centerpiece of the museum.

S.H. Knight was celebrated as Wyoming's "Citizen of the Century" in 1999, and his legacy will live on in the fully funded and operational museum that will result from donations to the S. H. Knight Memorial Fund.

To help reach the matching threshold, visit

Museum Friends -- University of Wyoming officials met recently with the Friends of the S.H. Knight Geological Museum to accept an $8,000 gift to support the museum. From left are Geology Department Head Art Snoke; museum friends Kelli Trujillo and Lisa Cox; UW Foundation President Ben Blalock; and museum friend Beth Southwell.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Y'all Come Back

Hi, all. There is a momentary lull in activity surrounding the museum, but please keep coming back to check the blog here because we will have news within a week or so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thanks to Mears Family

Casper Star-Tribune, September 10, 2009
Being delighted about the recent large donation for the S.H. Knight Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming, I am writing this letter. Dr. Brainerd Mears and his wife, Anne, have enriched the lives of the people of Wyoming by their generosity. I am also grateful to the citizens of the state of Wyoming, by reason the grant of the state of Wyoming in matching funds.
This museum is a tribute to the history of the state of Wyoming, and it will be enjoyed by future generations. Finding and displaying fossils from the state of Wyoming and from the historic past of the world is an integral part of the state's heritage. Wyoming is one of the places where dinosaurs roamed and their skeletal remains have become well known through the museum.
When I was much younger, I studied one summer under Dr. S. H. Knight, who worked hard to establish this museum. He was enthusiastic about his subject, and passed a great deal of knowledge to his students. I especially recall his geological drawings and their accuracy. What a tribute to this great man and the state of Wyoming has been given by this gift.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of publicly showing my appreciation for this very special museum and the benefactors who have assured its continuance.