Discovery Museum Saw Its Strongest Year Yet in 2023

ACTON, MA – Discovery Museum served nearly 253,000 people on site at the Museum and in school classrooms throughout New England in 2023, the largest number served in its 41-year history. A full 25% of those served were for free or nearly free through the Museum’s access programs for families facing barriers to visitation due to financial, physical, sensory, or learning differences.

The 252,945 people served was a 24% increase over 2022. More than 53,000 of those served were PreK – 8th grade students in 116 towns that received the Museum’s classroom-based Traveling Science Workshops enrichment program, which saw a 17% increase in the number of students served from 2022. Museum revenue grew 22% to $3.8M.  

“2023 was a tremendous year for Discovery Museum, where we were able serve more kids, families, students and teachers with hands-on experiences that can change the way a child looks at their world, themselves, and their abilities,” said CEO Marie Beam. “Under the leadership of our former CEO Neil Gordon, we were able to grow our impact to new underserved audiences, continue on a path toward carbon neutrality, and work with our community partners to better reflect and serve a diverse community of interests and lived experiences. This next year we will take the opportunity to evaluate how best to build upon a very solid foundation to deliver even more joyful learning experiences to our existing community and beyond.” The Museum has issued an RFP for strategic planning consulting services to guide its Board and staff through a strategic plan process. 

2023 saw the Museum focus on its own sustainability, with a 5-year plan toward carbon neutrality centered on its conversion to 100% site-generated solar electricity; environmental education for visitors through expanded outdoor education programs; a broadening of its community reach to underserved audiences through various initiatives including translation of educational materials into six languages, expanded offerings for families facing a disability, and a project to serve young incarcerated fathers housed at MCI-Concord and their families; and continued free educational opportunities for parents and caregivers through the Discovery Museum Speaker Series.

Discovery Museum saw its second year in a row of record donor support, with more than 1,200 donors and funders contributing more than $1M in unrestricted support of its educational and access programs. The Museum ended the year with more than 5,600 member families, more than any time in its history. Nearly one third were free memberships provided to first-time parents and families facing disabilities.

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 giant 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 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and a LEAD® Community Asset Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Discovery Museum was also recognized in 2023 as a Finalist for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Medal, the highest honor in the museum field. For more information, please visit 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.