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January 18, 2018

Each new year begins with optimism about what the future may hold, but for us at the Discovery Museum, 2018 will surely be an especially momentous year. Next month we will culminate eight years of planning, fundraising, development, design and construction by opening the all-new Discovery Museum. And while the foundation of what we will do will remain unchanged—it will simply be happening in a new, more spacious, more accessible, more visitor-friendly space—we are energized by the idea of delivering on our mission in interesting, creative, and exciting new ways.

"Making and Tinkering for All" is a tremendous example. Our nine-year-old Especially for Me accessibility program will make use of our new da Vinci Workshop to bring the joyous and open-ended experiences of making and tinkering to all kids. As the December/January 2018 issue of NAEYC's Teaching Young Children noted, "Since making and tinkering materials and activities can be used in many ways, they offer opportunities for children of all abilities to play together." We will be working with Autism Alliance of Metrowest, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Boston Children's Hospital, and other partners to create and deliver meaningful, accessible workshop learning experiences that every child can enjoy and benefit from. Using a wide assortment of materials and methods, invention and creativity will reign supreme in da Vinci Workshop! Initial funding for this effort has been generously provided by Foundation for MetroWest and Sudbury Foundation—thank you!  

We are excited for the many learning possibilities presented by other new galleries in the new museum as well, including our 1,500 sf Community Gallery which will house longer-term visitor building projects and traveling exhibits; Bessie's House, the intimate home of our reimagined exhibits from the original Children's Discovery Museum; Brain Building Together, our special place for parents and caregivers to play and learn with their infants and toddlers while supporting their healthy brain development; and Yes, It's Math, where we will all be reminded that math is all around us, every day, and...it's fun! The new building and its thoughtfully created exhibits are a platform upon which we will build upon our history.  

Even as we get ready for all that is to come in 2018, we are very proud of the great things that happened at the Discovery Museum in 2017. We are especially pleased with the evolution and development of Discovery Woods since it opened in July 2016. Although our Science museum has been closed for construction since mid-June, so many visitors enjoyed Discovery Woods, the new Adventure Hill, and all of the terrific programs offered outdoors (including favorites such as Backyard and Beyond and our newest offering, Orienteering) that 2017 was our second-largest visitation year ever! Thank you to our incredible visitors and members for your loyalty to and enjoyment of the museum during this period of construction—we do appreciate your patience and support.

Speaking of growth, 2017 was a record year for our in-school Traveling Science Workshops. With the continued support of lead sponsor MathWorks, TSW delivered an incredible 15% more workshops than in 2016, reaching more than 33,000 children in classrooms in more than 90 communities in eastern and central Massachusetts. And with support from grant funders we were able to bring critical, hands-on science learning to even more communities that will benefit from the extra science learning support.

2017 created many powerful learning moments and wonderful memories, both for our visitors and for us. I am thinking particularly of a wonderful week in July spent examining and learning about the most beautiful, bizarre—and native!—caterpillars with our friend Sam Jaffe and The Caterpillar Lab. Other great program series such as Make a MESS, Backyard and Beyond, Take Aparts, Everyday Engineering, Flower Power Week, and our GAME ON! summer of outdoor family fun made every day unique and special. And of course, Dirtopia was a resounding, if muddy, success in its new, nearly-week-long format. I ask you: where else can kids spend this much time having open-ended and creative fun, while learning so much about themselves and the world around them? I think 2017 at the Discovery Museum once again proved that Play Matters.

With all the changes afoot, we kick off the new year with a new brand and a (slightly) new name -----   you may have noticed as much at the top of this email. The new name, Discovery Museum (formerly The Discovery Museums), is a subtle change that accurately reflects the single museum building now on campus; the familiarity of the name signals that the museum has not left its roots. A new logo is intended to signal a changed and expanded experience. There are sparks in both the former logo and the new one, intended to represent the museum's long-standing mission to spark curiosity, discovery, and learning through hands-on inquiry and scientific investigation. A refreshed color palette moves away from the early-childhood colors of blue, yellow, and green, and instead offers a more broad and mature—yet still fun and playful—palette intended to welcome visitors of all ages. And our new tagline Science. Nature. Play. directly communicates what we're about.  

The great possibilities for 2018 and the new museum itself would not be possible without the support of so many, most particularly The Manton Foundation, whose generous matching grants made it possible for us to imagine, undertake, and successfully complete our $8.8M capital campaign. We thank you.  

I hope you and the children in your life created many wonderful memories in 2017 and share my excitement and optimism for 2018. We look forward to sharing the year with you.

As always, I welcome your feedback, ideas, and questions directly to me at ngordon@discoveryacton.org.

 

Best for 2018,

 

 

Neil H. Gordon
Chief Executive Officer  

 

ps As you may know, Grand Opening Weekend is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and 11 -----    kids 12 and under visit for free all weekend! If you are interested to read the formal announcement of the new museum's opening, including descriptions of new exhibits, you can see it on our website here.