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.
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Dear Friend of the Museums,
As 2011 draws to a close, I want to share with you my thanks for what has proven to be a very successful year at The Discovery Museums. We are on track to set all-time attendance records and to complete the year with some important paths set for our future. Let me tell you about some of those exciting developments.
An important part of our future is new exhibits. This year we opened two new exhibits: Dream Green and SoundLab. SoundLab opened at the end of September and like Dream Green, links basic science principles to real world applications. In SoundLab, kids and families can experiment with the basic principles of vibration that generate sounds, and then have the chance to apply those principles in a sound booth, a sound-mixing studio, an instrument-building lab, and by exploring instruments from around the world. The exhibit opening was a celebration of Board Member Davida Fox-Melanson and her service to the children in the region. The exhibit is supported by a generous gift from her brother Harvey Eisenberg, with additional support from Bose Corporation and The Sudbury Foundation.
In November, The Discovery Museums’ Especially for Me: Expanding Access to Museum Fun for All Families received the New England Museums Association’s (NEMA) Leaders in Innovation Award, which recognizes New England museum programs and initiatives that advance the museum field in new and creative ways. In 2011, we expanded Especially for Me, launched in 2010, to better serve two underserved communities: families with children on the autism spectrum and families with deaf or hard of hearing infants and toddlers. The Discovery Museums are leading the way with this program: few if any children’s museums offer this type of targeted, sustained programming to both of these underserved communities for free. In fact, research shows that only 26 of the nearly 300 children’s museums in the country offer any programming for children on the autism spectrum. And other museums have begun to take notice, looking to us for for insight and advice on how to develop similar programming for their communities. Next year we plan to expand the program further, to meet the high demand among families.
Advocacy and support for the importance of play in children’s lives is a critical and growing part of our work. We provide training workshops to Horizons for Homeless Children volunteers who serve families in our region. We ran a workshop on “The Power of Play,” where we discussed why play is important in the lives of children. We delivered a workshop in Lowell called “Storytelling,” which gave volunteers practice in how to turn a simple story into an engaging and dynamic experience. Recently we did a workshop in Lawrence on “Household Science,” demonstrating that science is all around us. For a larger and broader audience, we sponsored the December 1 Walden Forum speaker series featuring Dr. Peter Gray on the importance of play and how to support children’s natural curiosity and love of learning.
Our 2011 fundraising efforts have been focused on our efforts to bring more underserved families to the Museums through our Open Door Connections program, with a goal of bringing 30,000 children—5,000 more than last year—to the Museums for free or deeply reduced price. Check out how we are doing here. In October we raised a record amount with our annual Falling for Science event with more than 140 people joining our guest host, FOX25 Meterologist Cindy Fitzgibbon. This successful and very fun event was made possible by our Premier Sponsor, Enterprise Bank. Click here to see photos of the evening. In November our second annual online auction, Bid for Kids, saw a 60% increase in revenue to support Open Door Connections.
As we continue to prepare for our future, we are pleased that in recent months we have added three members to our Board of Directors. Donald MacKenzie, retired Verizon executive and Acton Town Meeting Moderator; Wendy E. Baker, Branch Relationship Manager and Vice President at Enterprise Bank; and Russell Layton, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Hologic, Inc. have joined the Board. They bring to us both a wealth and diversity of experience in the community. We are thrilled to have Don, Wendy, and Russ on our Board.
We have had a great year and enter the holiday season full of hope about our future supporting the lives of children. We would love to see you soon. Let me know if you will be visiting the Museums, or would like to drop by and see our plans for the future.
Neil H. Gordon
Chief Executive Officer