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artists rendering of the new museum
March 1, 2017


Completion of the Ready, Set, Build! initiative will fully fund the $8.4M Campaign for The Discovery Museums


A single, completely renovated and expanded museum is scheduled to open before year-end; the original Children’s Discovery Museum will close


ACTON, MA – The Discovery Museums announced today the launch of Ready, Set, Build!, the final phase of the $8.4M capital campaign to expand the museums’ facilities and transform the campus.  This broad-scale public effort will complete the Campaign for The Discovery Museums, fulfill the $1M dollar-for-dollar Community Challenge Grant awarded by The Manton Foundation last year, and meet the Museums’ fundraising goal for its 2017 operations. The Museums seek to raise $700K by December 31st, $350K of which will complete the capital campaign.

In July 2016, the Museums completed Phase 1 of the Campus Master Plan, a $1.5M project to develop Discovery Woods, the accessible and fully-inclusive nature playscape and 550-square foot treehouse. In the months following the opening of Discovery Woods, museum visitation was up 30%. Last month, the Museums were awarded a 2017 Commonwealth Award by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for Discovery Woods, the only recipient in the Access category.

Ready, Set, Build! will allow Phase 2, the expansion and complete renovation of the Science Discovery Museum building, to break ground this summer.  The project will double the square footage of the building, allowing for exhibits from the two existing museums on site to be combined into a single building with improved and expanded visitor amenities.  The Children’s Discovery Museum, founded in 1982, will be no longer be available for public use when the new, unified museum building opens in late 2017.

“We are thrilled that the generous support of our community through the Leadership phase of our capital campaign has brought us to this incredible moment,” said Museums’ Board of Directors Chair Bill Ryan. “With the bulk of the fundraising complete, we are now asking every person whose life has been touched by The Discovery Museums to make a special investment in its future, to positively impact the lives of our visitors for the next 35 years and beyond.”

Opportunities for public recognition in the renovated building will be made available to donors.

The expansion is being designed by architects Cambridge Seven Associates with general contracting by JM Coull, Inc.  New permanent exhibits will include “Brain Building Zone,” a signature early-learning gallery based on the latest brain development research, designed for children ages zero to three and their parents; “Yes, It’s Math!,” an exhibit providing fun, family learning that takes the anxiety out of “doing math;” and “Da Vinci’s Workshop,” which will celebrate invention, art, creativity, and the process of scientific inquiry through hands-on making, tinkering, and exploring. 

The new museum building and all exhibits will be accessible and fully ADA compliant, furthering the Museums’ accessibility goals.  Recent accessibility milestones include opening the fully-accessible Discovery Woods and treehouse in July 2016; launching a new website that is accessible to those with hearing loss, vision loss, and physical limitations; and 2016 year-end results that included a 27% increase in attendance at free programs for families with disabilities, and a 13% increase in people visiting the Museums for free or deeply reduced cost. 

“It has been the dream of our Board and staff to offer an accessible facility where all children have the opportunity to learn and grow, and the completion of this project will enable us to do just that,” said CEO Neil Gordon. “Ready, Set, Build! is the chance to invest in a better future, by strengthening this important community resource to serve all children and families.”

For more information, please visit discoverymuseums.org/BUILD 


About The Discovery Museums

The Discovery Museums are the children’s and science museums of Metrowest Boston. Two great museums and the Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and treehouse—for one admission price—blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. The Museums serve families and schools from towns throughout the region, with a commitment to informal education that enhances classroom learning. The hands-on, playful exhibits, developed by professional educators, inspire curiosity, exploration, and imagination, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. The Discovery Museums are committed to accessibility, and are a proud recipient of the 2017 Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category. For more information please visit www.discoverymuseums.org. The Discovery Museums are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The Discovery Museums’ programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.