Access for All: Open Door Connections

It is an essential part of our mission to never turn away an individual or group for any reason, and to partner with community organizations to seek out underserved audiences and find ways to help them access the Museum and our programs.  

Board of Directors Statement of Inclusion and Accessibility

Discovery Museum is committed to welcoming children and the adults in their lives. We seek out, welcome, and embrace learners of all ages, abilities, economic, and cultural circumstances. As an organization, we strive to broadly reflect the communities we serve, both in visitors to our campus and our own staff/volunteers/board members. Through community partnerships and targeted initiatives, we work to increase access for individuals, families, and communities facing barriers to visitation. We seek to keep programs, exhibits, and our campus accessible, appropriate, and welcoming to all and actively encourage and consider feedback with respect to potential improvements, modifications, and adaptations.

a logo for the Mass Cultural Council's UP initiative

We are proud to have been designated by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as an UP Organization, "...demonstrating a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value."  

We thank the MCC for its support. 

Fun for everyone

The Museum's Open Door Connections (ODC) programs support innovative hands-on learning and meaningful play experiences for all. We strive to provide opportunities for those who face a variety of barriers—financial, developmental, or cultural—to experience the museum.

Partnering to grow access opportunities

Through Open Door Connections, we work to broaden the depth and reach of Museum offerings by working directly with partner organizations so we can better identify families and schools with need and engage them in all that Discovery Museum has to offer. We work with organizations including Spanish American Center (SAC), First Teacher, First Connections, The Commission of Status of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Acton Housing Authority, SMOC Head Start Hudson, SMOC Head Start Marlborough, Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), and more. Our objective is for all members of the community to feel a part of the Museum community.

How are we doing?

Each year from 2011 to 2019 we exceeded the goal we’d set for the number served through Open Door Connections, consistently serving 22% to 26% of our audience—between 40,000 and more than 52,000 people—at low or no cost. In 2020 and 2021 our capacity was severely restricted due to the pandemic but Open Door visitation as a percent of our audience remained somewhat consistent at 22% and 18%, respectively.

What's next?

In 2019 we set a goal to grow Open Door by 50%, to 75,000 served annually through our access programs by 2024. As we continue to operate at reduced headcount due to COVID this hard number goal is not achievable in that timeframe, but we continue to look to grow Open Door as a percentage of our visiting and in-school audiences through expanded partnerships with our existing community partners and outreach to new partners that can connect us with new underserved audiences. And with our DEAI framework we are exploring not only ways to increase subsidized audience but to deepen and enrich museum connections to a diversity of audiences. 

Especially for Me

ODC events include the Especially for Me program series, which offers free evenings at the Museum for families with children on the autism spectrum in conjunction with the Autism Alliance of MetroWest; free mornings and evenings for families of children who are deaf or experience hearing loss, offered in conjunction with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program of Children's Hospital Boston; free evenings for families with children with vision loss, offered with the support of Perkins School for the Blind, and All-Access events for any family that would benefit.

ODC is also affiliated with Acre Family Child Care in Lowell, MA, and has provided free educational activities for the family child care children, professional development workshops for the family child care providers, and free family nights at the Museum.

We work closely with schools to ensure that financial constraints are not a barrier for learning hands-on math and science. Every year we provide free and discounted programs to schools in need, including Field Trips to the Museum and Traveling Science Workshops in PreK through 8th grade classrooms.

Seeking Partners

If you are with an organization that would like to work with us around Open Door Connections, please email Shilpa Kulkarni, Director of Community Partnerships, or call her 978-264-4200 ext. 116. We would love to hear from you.

Open Door Connections is generously funded by
Alexion Charitable Foundation logo
National Grid logo
Raytheon logo
Sanofi Genzyme logo
TJX logo
with additional support from
Boston Scientific logo
DCU for Kids logo
along with
Corning Foundation logo
logo for Greater Lowell Community Foundation
Hanscom Federal Credit Union Charitable Foundation logo
logo for the Highland Street Foundation
Intel logo
MathWorks logo
Mass Cultural Council logo
Novartis logo

Boston Scientific Foundation

Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation

Orville W. Forté Charitable Foundation

The Saab Family Foundation

Schrafft Charitable Trust

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Acton Lions Club

AMD (Advanced Micro Devices)

Avidia Charitable Foundation

Corning Incorporated Foundation

Fred Harris Daniels Foundation

Nypro, Inc.

The Adelard A. and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation

Local Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Andover, Ayer, Bedford, Billerica, Bolton, Burlington, Chelmsford, Clinton, Concord, Dracut, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Hudson, Lawrence, Leominster, Lincoln, Littleton, Lunenburg, Malden, Marlborough, Maynard, Methuen, Milford, Needham, Newton, Northbridge, Peabody, Pepperell, Shirley, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sterling, Sudbury, Templeton, Tewksbury, Townsend, Wakefield, Waltham, Wayland, Westford, Westminster, Weston, and Wilmington