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,
At the turn of the calendar we can take the opportunity to both reflect back and look forward. I am thrilled to report that 2012 was a great year for The Discovery Museums: one of continued growth, new and expanding partnerships, celebration of our history, and planning for our future. And, 2013 promises to be an exciting year as we launch many of our plans and begin new journeys.
First, we need to celebrate a record year in 2012. Thank you to all who chose to experience the Museums this year: members, regular visitors, first-timers, school field trippers, traveling science students, teachers, and others. More than 179,500 of you visited with us in 2012. This is 7% higher than 2011, a 42% increase since 2009. And as part of that growth, we were able to serve more than 38,000--68% more than in 2009--at free or reduced cost through our Open Door Connections program for underserved audiences. That means an incredible 22% of our visitors experienced the Museums in 2012 thanks to the generosity of folks like you.
In late 2011 we set a goal to increase the number of events held as part of our Especially for Me program for families with children with autism spectrum disorder and families with children with hearing loss. We were happy to be able to double the number of events to 12 last year. The final event of the year on December 1st was a great evening that benefited not from only our long-standing partnership with the Autism Alliance of MetroWest, but also from collaborations with Indian Hill Music and Open Door Theater. Families were treated to a music-filled evening, including workshops with Indian Hill music therapist Romy Wilhelm and a very special visit from Annie, "Daddy" Warbucks and some special orphans from the Open Door Theater cast.
In late November we launched our newly-formed Science and Technology Advisory Council, a group of 16 (and counting) diverse and accomplished technology leaders. The STAC is led by Christina Lampe-Onnerud, high tech innovator and former CEO of Boston Power. The group's objective is to help keep the museums current on science and technology trends and support our efforts to create inspirational and fun experiences for kids in science, technology, and engineering. We are grateful to have the opportunity to pick the brains of these successful science entrepreneurs as we continue to define our plans for the future.
The Discovery Museums offer visitors a very rich calendar of public programs each year. The more than 400 programs we delivered in 2012 were in no small part the result of great partnerships with some incredible individuals and organizations. In just the last few months, visitors explored Pirate Science with Brandeis University researchers; built incredible structures with the Destination Imagination team; learned about the world of dance with the Commonwealth Ballet; enjoyed the intersection of science, mystery and literature thanks to author Penny Noyce; visited with live owls with Eyes on Owls, and much, much more.
In early December, The Discovery Museums hosted representatives from museums, libraries, the Department of Early Education & Care, and Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Programs grantees from around the MetroWest region to discuss creating engaging programming for children and families around STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) topics. As part of the Massachusetts Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge initiative, attendees discussed how best to equip local museums and libraries across the state with programming, curricula and other tools to expand the high quality and enriching experiences available to our youngest citizens.
On December 7, we opened Nano, a great new exhibit focused on the emerging world of the very small. In combination with a range of interesting staff-lead programs, we are pleased to be able to offer our visitors this glimpse of cutting edge science through the exhibit. This work is possible through our participation in a national collaboration with the Nanoscale Informal Science Education (NISE) Network and support from the National Science Foundation.
Amidst all this, we found time to celebrate at our 30th anniversary gala with a capacity crowd. Underneath a tent at the Museums, our friends and supporters were treated to an evening hosted by WBUR's Robin Young, with great food, music, prizes, and some excellent dancing, all the while raising a record amount to support our Open Door Connections program. Special thanks to Gala Committee chair Cheryl Beaudoin for creating such a fun event, and to Premier sponsors Cisco Systems, Enterprise Bank, and Nuance Communications for making the event possible. Check out photos of the event here. We hope you will join the fun at next year's gala!
While celebrating our 30-year history we also made great progress towards planning our future. Under the leadership of Board Chair Lees Stuntz, the Museums have developed a plan to expand and improve our campus to serve visitors well for the next 30 years. Board member Bill Ryan is leading our Building Committee to oversee those plans. The plan will require substantial investment from our community, and Board member Tom Beaudoin is leading the efforts to raise those funds. As we move into 2013, we will be sharing more of those plans with you.
Thank you for being part of all we do at The Discovery Museums.
Happy New Year!
Neil H. Gordon
Chief Executive Officer