Discovery Museum Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Acton, MA – Discovery Museum announced today a series of celebratory public events to mark its 40th year of bringing hands-on STEAM learning to kids and families and to thank its community for the four decades of support that have made it possible.

“Discovery Museum has served more than 5 million children and families over the past 40 years—and that is due in no small part to the generosity and support of our community,” said CEO Neil Gordon. “That support, combined with the vision and dedication of our staff and volunteers, has enabled us to stoke kids’ natural curiosity and creativity to explore and better understand themselves, their capabilities, and the incredible possibilities of the world around them. We are honored to be an enduring part of the lives of so many families.”

"It is so rewarding to see generations of families exploring and learning together at Discovery Museum across 40 years," said Emeritus and Founding Board Member Carolyn Platt. "We see parents who visited as children bringing their own children, and their parents visiting with their grandchildren—strengthening bonds and creating joyful memories through hands-on play. Learning together through open-ended play experiences at the Museum is as impactful today as it was in 1982. Discovery Museum is a treasured community resource that I expect will be a part of families' lives for generations to come."

40th Anniversary Community Events

Special programs and events including free outdoor movie nights, accessible arts performances, a free-admission day, a 21+ party, and more will be held June through

October. Most events require advance registration, unless noted otherwise.

June 23, 7:30pm | STEM + Movie Nights on the Lawn #1 – Enjoy hands-on pollinator activities and then settle in to watch “A Bug’s Life” on our lawn. Registration not required. Free.

Jun 24, 4:30-8:00pm | Summer Friday Nights Free begin – Visit with free admission every Friday night through Labor Day. Registration required to visit. Free.

June 25 & 26, all day | Bessie’s Birthday Weekend – We’ll celebrate our dinosaur mascot’s 40th with STEM explorations, a scavenger hunt, and more. Registration required to visit. Free with admission.

July 16, 6:30pm | Discovery After Dark, a 21+event – It’s grown-up time at the Museum! Enjoy live Caribbean steelpan music, drinks, food, and FUN. Indoors and outdoors; advance ticket purchase required.

July – August | Inclusive Patio Performances – Inclusive performing arts events on our patio, including a jazz performance by Berkshire Hills Music Academy and Exploring China: The “Middle Kingdom” Through Music & Story with Shaw Pong Liu, a Young Audiences of Massachusetts artist; dates to be announced. Registration required to visit. Free with admission.

July 21, 7:30pm & August 11, 7:00pm | STEM + Movie Nights on the Lawn #2 and #3 – Enjoy hands-on STEM activities and then settle in to watch a family favorite movie on our lawn. (These film titles cannot be include in the press release but can be found on our website here and here.) Free.

September 10, all day | Free Community Day! – Join us with free admission and enjoy activities, food trucks, birthday cupcakes, a parade, and more! Registration required to visit. Free.

October 1 – 31 | Play Like It’s 1982! – Join us any day in October, the month of our founding, and pay just $2.50 admission. Registration required to visit.

In addition, a number of long-running visitor-favorite public programs will be offered such as Cold As Ice, Fairyborough, Exploring Nano, Woodworking, Take Aparts, and more.

Discovery Museum’s full set of 40th anniversary programs and community events are generously sponsored by TJX Companies, with additional support from Enterprise Bank, along with Corning Life Sciences, Dunkin'/Locally Owned and Operated by the Pesce Family, Hologic, Inc., and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Discovery Museum Major Milestones

Founded in October 1982 by local schoolteacher Donald Verger, the Museum opened in a 130-year-old Victorian house, with each room a unique immersive learning environment for child-directed exploration. Five years later a second building was added to the campus with interactive STEM exhibits for a broader set of ages. In-school Traveling Science Workshops, first introduced in 1992, brought hands-on STEM explorations into classrooms and now reach upwards of 40,000 students per year.

Discovery Museum served its 2 millionth visitor in 2000, and in 2010 launched its Open Door Connections program to reflect an increasing focus on removing barriers to access for families that faced economic, physical, or developmental challenges to visitation. More than 25% of those served each year at the Museum and in schools now come through Open Door.

An $8.8M capital campaign in 2013 began a full renovation of the physical campus, with a primary objective of accessibility. In 2016, Discovery Woods—including an accessible nature playscape and treehouse—opened, followed by a fully renovated and expanded Discovery Museum in 2018; both the building and all exhibits were designed based on Universal Design guidelines to be accessible to most ages and abilities.

In 2022, the Museum announced its conversion to 100% on-site generated solar electricity—a first among children’s museums in the country—with excess energy sold to other regional nonprofits at a discount, as well with a first-of-its-kind carbon offset program for members, staff, and volunteers. These constitute major steps in the Museum’s 5-year Sustainability Plan toward carbon neutrality.

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About Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum and its Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and 550sf treehouse blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus abutting 180 acres of conservation land in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. Originally founded in 1982 and expanded to two museums in 1987, the museum reopened in a single, 16,000sf accessible building after a complete renovation and expansion in early 2018. Hands-on, open-ended exhibits developed by professional educators inspire curiosity and exploration, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. Serving families and schools from towns throughout the region, the Museum is devoted to informal education that enhances classroom learning. Discovery Museum is committed to accessibility and is a proud recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and a 2018 LEAD® Community Asset Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Discovery Museum is a community-supported non-profit organization. Discovery Museum programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

 

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