POSTED: 01/01/0001


Museums on Call,” New Report from American Alliance of Museums, Highlights Museums Providing Critical Health Services

Denver, CO—July 11, 2013—Museums have long been essential pillars in America’s educational infrastructure. But increasingly, museums of all types and sizes—including the Denver Museum of Nature & Science—are integral to U.S. health care, supporting medical research and training; initiating therapeutic programs for those with memory loss, children on the autism spectrum, and veterans with combat-related illnesses; and inspiring healthier nutrition and behavior.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science initiative, Genetics of Taste, and other health-related enterprises on the part of American museums are documented in a new report, “Museums on Call: How Museums are Addressing Health Issues,” released by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

The full report, including a state-by-state appendix of examples, can be accessed at

“This report showcases just one of the many ways museums have become essential community assets and service-providers,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “In addition to conserving and exhibiting our natural, scientific, cultural, and historic heritages, museums also meet urgent community needs, and in today’s America health care is very much at the forefront of our field’s commitment to public service.”

At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Genetics of Taste is the first community-based and community-run genetics lab in the country. Seven days a week, visitors look in and see how a real molecular lab works and watch real scientists in action. More than 3,100 visitors have enrolled in the research study and over 140 volunteers have been trained as citizen-scientists. The data collected is used to research how DNA affects taste and the role of taste in health.

“We are very proud of the opportunity for the community to be involved in an authentic scientific study in the Genetics of Taste Lab and to be highlighted in this national report,” said Nicole Garneau, PhD, curator of human health at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “We strive to create a community of critical thinkers and this study lets the community take the wheel and drive a real research project.”

The report details 10 aspects of the health care field where museums are making significant contributions: 

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Disease prevention
  • Health literacy
  • Hospital outreach
  • Medical training
  • Mental health
  • Military and veterans health
  • Nutrition and wellness
  • Visual impairment

Moreover, the museums that have initiated programs addressing these issues represent a breadth in the field: art museums, children’s museums, history museums and historic sites, natural history museums, science-technology centers, public and botanical gardens, zoos, and aquariums.

“For too long, elected officials and other policy makers have viewed museums as amenities, rather than as essential community anchors,” Bell said. “This report is but a glimpse of the many public services provided by museums to our communities, all across the country. Health care is a prime concern for leaders and average citizens alike, and museums are clearly striving to meet those needs.”

For more information on the unexpected work being done by museums in the fields of education, social welfare, and public safety, visit the AAM website at

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums is the largest museum service organization in the world, serving all types of museums, including art, history, science, botanic gardens, zoos, and aquariums.  The Alliance helps museums serve their communities by developing standards and best practices, offering professional training and resources, and serving as the national voice of museums for the public, media, and elected officials.  Working on behalf of 17,500 museums, 400,000 museum employees, thousands of volunteers and the visitors who come to museums 850 million times each year, The Alliance is dedicated to bolstering museums in promoting lifelong learning, celebrating cultural heritage, and inspiring the creative skills to compete in a global economy.  For more information, visit

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region's leading resource for informal science education. A variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the natural wonders of Colorado, Earth and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205.  To learn more about the Museum, check, or call 303-370-6000.  Many of the Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District.

Media Contacts:

Charlotte Hurley

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

[email protected], 303-370-6407

Dewey Blanton

AAM Communications

[email protected], 202-218-7704



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