Our philosophy starts with the simple belief that kids are capable of incredible things. Our job is to nurture that ability; our goal is to support kids' healthy development. Play is how kids learn--here, it is in both a STEM-rich environment and inviting outdoor experience.
The Discovery Museums has embarked on an effort that is already transforming our museum, and will result in a more welcoming, functional, accessible, physical campus; fresh and inspiring new exhibits and interactives; and the recipe for long-term financial sustainability for a valued community asset. This project will set The Discovery Museums on a new course to provide more families than ever with fun, interactive experiences that build that foundational, twenty-first century scientific skills of creativity, curiosity, and exploration.
What this $8.4 million effort will make possible
- The expansion and renovation of our facilities and the union of the Children's and Science Discovery Museums
- Significant improvements in accessibility to make our property, facilities, and exhibits inclusive of those with both physical and developmental differences
- The addition of unique outdoor programming and exhibits in our Discovery Woods nature playscape, aimed at getting kids and their families back outside for unstructured, natural play experiences.
- The addition of 21st-century amenities for our expanding visitor base
- The creation of a cash operating reserve to allow leadership to respond nimbly to exciting ideas and opportunities
An outdoor adventure
Discovery Woods is an inclusive, fully-accessible nature playscape. The cornerstone of this one-acre area—a 550-square foot, whimsical, and accesible tree house—is accessible on-grade but sits 15-20 feet above the ground, offering the thrill of being in the air, at a height that will not intimidate young children. An elevated trail with sensory and observation stations along the way takes advantage of a 15-foot grade change to provide an ADA-compliant ramping system for wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, and other mobility aids, ensuring that every visitor can reach the tree house and experience exciting new perspectives from different vantage points along the way. A variety of interactive natural experiences on the ground—including beaver huts, a climbing net, nest swing, birdhouse village, family slide, and more—engage all ages and ability levels, enticing kids and families to spend more time outdoors.
Great new exhibits
Expansion of the Science Discovery Museum will provide space for new exhibits that will adhere to our 34-year commitment to early STEM learning through hands-on inquiry and investigation, with a focus on nurturing the natural creativity and curiosity of children. We will add a new, 1,500 square-foot Community Gallery so that we can offer large-scale, long-term projects and host traveling exhibits that complement our regular collection, and will build the following new exhibits:
- Brain Building Together - focused on our youngest visitors, ages 0 to 3, and the latest in brain development science, this exhibit will also educate parents on the best ways to support their infants and toddlers healthy brain development and learning through play.
- Yes, It's Math! - research shows that parents' math anxiety is transferred to their children, so our new math exhibit will draw in both parents and kids, showing them through engaging activities that we are all naturally good at math.
- DaVinci Workshop - a space for tinkering, building, and inventing with a phased experience for young children through our middle-school visitors, with loads of materials, tools of all kinds, and the inspiration to have ideas and bring them to life.
- Water Room - an enchanting water workshop will allow kids to interact with all of water's wondrous behaviors.
- AirMaze - a 15-foot tall interactive maze of tubes and blowers demonstrating the tremendous power of air
- Light & Color Gallery - a favorite exhibit on the properties of and relationship between light and color, reimagined and more vividly engaging for all.
A more welcoming environment for all
In our expansion and renovation plan, we are passionately committed to making The Discovery Museums an inclusively accessible museum, indoors and out, welcoming to all and providing experiences that all visitors can share. We aim not just for legal ADA compliance but for true inclusivity according to the principles of Universal Design. As one of only ten organizations chose to participate in the inaugural year of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's UP! program, a state initiative designed to "support the growth and development of organizations that recognize the power of inclusive design to grow audiences and enhance cultural experiences for everyone and that embrace inclusivity as core to their mission and organization", we are working with user experts, advisors, and the Institute for Human Centered Design on design development, as well as participating in significant staff training on the adaptations of our current campus while we await new construction.
Universal Design principles encourage the creation of spaces that are simply and intuitively usable by all, regardless of experience, knowledge, or skill level, and whose design does not stigmatize or disadvantage any group of users. With the Campaign for The Discovery Museums, we will expand our attention to address inclusivity in our facilites and infrastructure, to create a building and grounds that all of our visitors can enjoy equally and together.