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Acton, MA – On March 1, 2018, the 36-year-old-yet-all-new Discovery Museum opened its doors to a waiting public, after completion of an $8.8M capital expansion and renovation that created a new, accessible, 16,000sf facility. A year later, on Saturday, March 2, more than 250 guests gathered at the Museum’s annual “Evening of Thanks” event to celebrate a very successful year, the culmination of a five-year capital campaign and nine months of construction on campus.
[Pictured: Senator Jamie Eldridge, CEO Neil Gordon, and Representative Tami Gouveia at Discovery Museum's Evening of Thanks on March 2.]
In the 12 months since re-opening, the Museum served nearly 253,000 children, parents, caregivers, and teachers, the most in its history and double the number served just 10 years ago.
The past year has also seen membership more than double, to more than 4,300 member families.
A key part of the capital project was to better serve families facing barriers to museum visitation. More than 50,000 were served for free or nearly free since the March 1, 2018 opening—20% of the total served—through free events to families with children on the autism spectrum, who are deaf or hard of hearing, or are blind or experience low vision, along with a number free or discounted admission and membership programs.
Since opening, the Museum has been honored with several awards including a 2018 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts LEAD® Community Asset Award, for setting an example in the cultural arts field for inclusion of people with disabilities; a Boston Magazine Best of Boston® award for Best Family-Friendly Museum, West; a 2018 Wicked Local Reader’s Choice Award, Gold, for Best Museum; and a 2018 Boston Parents Paper Family Favorites award.
“It has been, without a doubt, a tremendous year,” said CEO Neil Gordon. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback that we’ve received from our members and visitors has meant so much to our team, who put incredible care and insight into to creating the new museum. We now have an entire accessible campus from which to serve every kid, no matter their ability and learning style, and we are continuing our efforts to reach and welcome all families to play and learn here.”
In addition to serving visitors on its campus, for 26 years the Museum has brought informal STEM education into classrooms throughout New England, and in 2018 brought 1,747 Traveling Science Workshops to 36,000 pre-K through 8th students and their teachers.
In 2018 the Museum completed its 2019-2023 Strategic Plan and kicked off a Facilities Feasibility Study for the remaining buildings on campus.