Update from our CEO, July 2014

Dear Friend of the Museums,

At The Discovery Museums, we believe in investing in kids---early. We'd like for every

child to have early exposure to learning that is both fun and makes an impact, particularly in science, from a young age, when their minds are open to the wonders of the world around them and their place in it. We believe, and research supports, that early science learning creates permanent, indelible brain connections that can fuel a lifelong passion to learn, create, and solve problems. Every child should have that opportunity.

We do our best to make sure our investments in early learning are prudently managed: of all the similar institutions in Massachusetts, The Discovery Museums are ranked number one in people served per dollar of investment. We are making a powerful impact on families, and we are doing it in an efficient way. As New Englanders, we are proud of that indicator.

There are fairly regular indicators that suggest we are having an impact by what we're doing. Last spring, the Association of Children's Museums and MetLife Foundation awarded us our second

Patti Dyer of the MetLife Foundation presents the Promising Practice Award Reimagined to Neil Gordon

Promising Practice Award in the last four years. The award is given to "essential places for nurturing children to become global citizens." Closer to home, the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School has awarded us the William Ryan Community Service Award, given annually to an organization "whose contributions have made an ongoing positive impact on the community, and particularly on its young people." We are proud of each of these recognitions, and signs that our work matters.

To have the most significant impact, our investment of focus and resources needs to be made on behalf of all kids, and must address some of the more difficult issues affecting kids and families. Our Open Door Connections program is our way of making sure the joys of the museums are accessible to everyone. Over the past four years, we have the doubled---from 20,000 to 40,000---the number of people served for free or highly reduced cost, with targeted efforts aimed at improving access for groups with extra challenges to being here.

Recently we announced two new efforts to reach even more children and families. In May we launched our EBT Admission Discount program, offering $1 admission per person for EBT card holders and up to five additional family members. Although we have many avenues for visiting the Museums for free or at a discount, we felt that partnering with the Commonwealth on its program to support families in transition would be the best way to provide the most flexible benefit for families.

We have also begun our new Discovery Membership Ambassador program, partnering with social service providers and agencies such as Horizons for Homeless Children and SMOC Head Start, to provide the families they serve with free museum memberships. We hope to reach even more families through this program, and to foster with them the rich, ongoing relationship we have with our members.

These initiatives are just part of our current approach to well-serve a growing and changing audience. But the evolving and somewhat urgent needs of families combined with projected growth compel us to think larger, to think longer term about doing our part for a stronger community. We need to leverage our core strengths, as we have for 30+ years, but we need to grow and change to help families address today's issues. New outdoor areas devoted to creativity and nature; more exhibit space and expanded exhibit topics; better visitor services; and a plan to be sustainable---these are some of the things that are integral to our future as an essential resource for families.

We would like to get your feedback on areas of focus for our future. Please click here for a two-question survey, one of which is to rate the importance of the following on a scale of 1-5:

  • Create a dedicated area for our youngest visitors, ages 0 to 3, and their parents
  • Provide a captivating outdoor space that draws kids into nature and invites exploration
  • Modernize visitor amenities by including a place to eat and purchase food, a larger gift shop, and additional bathrooms
  • Expand our commitment and space for "making," tinkering, and inventing
  • Preserve the look, feel, and intimacy of our museum while growing to serve more families
  • Improve the accessibility of our entire campus so that visitors with all abilities can enjoy our museum
  • Add outdoor areas for gross motor play---running, jumping, climbing
  • Build a space that would allow us to host well-regarded, traveling exhibits that fit our hands-on approach to core science education

Additionally, we would love to hear your one idea for what we should add or do differently to better serve families.

 Click here to complete a two-question survey about our future plans--thank you!

This fall we will begin to tell you even more about our future.

We appreciate your input and support.  If you have other thoughts, questions, or want to visit, please email me at ngordon@discoverymuseums.org.

Best,

Neil H. Gordon
Chief Executive Officer