Update from our CEO, July 2016

Dear Friend of the Museums,

I am still riding an emotional high. On July 16 and 17 we celebrated the Grand Opening of Discovery Woods, our inclusive and fully-accessible nature playscape and treehouse. I could tell you a lot about how people reacted, but here are some photos, and news articles from MetroWest Daily News and Lowell Sun that really tell it well.

The weekend also included a wonderful evening event in Discovery Woods, a community celebration attended by 250 people. Our terrific photographer Mitchell Green took some beautiful photos of our guests. 

I'd like to try to convey my feelings by sharing some of my remarks from the evening:

I am so pleased and a bit overwhelmed to be sharing this incredible day with you all.

And much as it is great to be here this evening, it was simply a joy to open Discovery Woods earlier today, and see so many kids having such a blast outdoors playing in this unique new space.

Thank you all for being here today to mark an important and incredible moment in the history of The Discovery Museums. When our founders picked this site 34 years ago, they knew they had something special. With what is now 4.5 acres and with access to 180 acres of conservation land, the creation of a special space for kids outdoors was preordained. It was an opportunity just waiting for all of you to join forces to make it happen. It was a space just waiting for The Treehouse Guys and Lemon | Brooke, our landscape architects, to waive their magic wands and create a magnet for outdoor play. And this morning, there were a whole lot of kids just waiting for a reason to turn off those gadgets so they could fly down that slide.  

Today is a day unlike any other for The Discovery Museums, and yet it is also a day just like all others. A day in which we celebrate the opening of a great, beautiful new space, but also one in which we continue to focus on a simple goal--to get kids ready for a brilliant future.

Discovery Woods IS beautiful: from the details of oak branches seemingly impossibly supporting all that hardwood decking and live-edge siding, to the way in which boulders, earth, and plants combine to create the slide hill. It is a space where you just want to linger and take it all in.

But, our goal is not an architectural prize or a gardening award: the success of Discovery Woods will be measured by the kids we entice away from sedentary activities, and back outside to play. Our success will also be measured by those we inspire to join us in our pursuit of getting kids to be active, healthy, future stewards of our natural world.  

Our goal is simple:

Every kid, every day, outside to play.

Our evening featured remarks from Representative Cory Atkins and Senator Jamie Eldridge, who, along with Representative Jen Benson, have been tireless supporters of this project and our museum.  We were also honored with remarks by Julia Krapf, Trustee of The Manton Foundation, which has been an unwavering and incredibly generous supporter of this museum.  Julia spoke eloquently about the experiences that create memories: that they are universally hands-on, without batteries or screens, and in keeping with our philosophy at The Discovery Museums.

Many individuals, families, foundations, businesses, and agencies are to be thanked for making Discovery Woods possible through their support of the Campaign for The Discovery Museums.  Special thanks go to:

The Manton Foundation
Sangreal Foundation,
Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund,
Cummings Foundation,
and residents of the Town of Acton, particularly for their unanimous support of Community Preservation Act funding for this project.

We have so much more to do. Next spring we will begin an exhaustive renovation and expansion of our indoor space.  The needs we will address range from the mundane (we need to deal with 30 plus years of aging systems) to the practical (we need room to accommodate our growing audience) to the critical (we must address indoor accessibility). And then, there is the fun--we are ready to add some incredible new exhibits including a new "maker space" that blends art and science, as well as a space that will host changing, multi-dimensional experiences for visitors.

In the end, a virtually all-new, top-to-bottom overhauled Discovery Museum will be able to host twice as many people, be far friendlier to people with disabilities, and showcase our unique exhibit approach with new favorites while giving a fresh take on those experiences people have loved for decades. Just like Discovery Woods, our new building will transform the museum even while safeguarding the elements of our approach that make us a one-of-a-kind experience for families.

Not quite three years ago we set out to raise what was then budgeted to be $7 million.  That $7 million became $8.4 million. And today, we are "just" $600,000 from that goal--and, we need to reach it by year end. To do that, we must find investors who are moved by all that we've accomplished and motivated to support the transformation of our campus.

I hope to see you at Discovery Woods, with kids, grand kids, or play-loving adults.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts at ngordon@discoverymuseums.org.

Best Regards,

Neil H. Gordon

Chief Executive Officer