About Us

Inspiring Children

Our mission is to inspire children in science. By participating in studies, engaging in hands-on, minds-on activities, and taking a deep dive into sciences – health, genetics, neuroscience, and so forth – we provide transformative experiences that broaden young people’s experience with science and create on-ramps to higher education.

Safe + Healthy Places

Children have a safe and healthy place to play, learn, and explore. Whether climbing on the play structures, splashing at the water table, or participating in a study, children can choose various free and accessible activities to engage their minds and bodies. This is especially important when cold temperatures or smoke make outdoors less healthy or accessible.

National Living Lab Initiative

The UM Living Lab is a member of the National Living Lab Initiative which brings developmental science into third places. There are 36 Living Labs worldwide with most located in science centers and museums. We are one of three located in a public library which removes barriers to access (no entry fee) for children and families.

Funded by NIH Science Education Partnership Award

The UM Living Lab is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a partnership with the City of Missoula and Missoula Public Library. We opened to the public in July 2021.

All Under One Roof

The library’s All Under One Roof (AUOR) Model, based on Scandinavian Culture Houses, is the first of its kind in the US and brings together similarly missioned organizations for greater collective impact. Partner organizations include spectrUM Science Discovery Area, Families First, MCAT Missoula Community Media Resource, and the UM Living Lab.

Best Public Library in the World!

Missoula Public Library, home of the UM Living Lab, was awarded the Best Public Library in the World in 2022 by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. MPL is the first library in North America to receive this distinction.