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July 9, 2020

Dear Friend of the Museum,

In thinking about the challenges families are facing, I recognize that their needs are changing as we move through the various phases of the pandemic shutdown: kids at home prior to the start of distance learning; then, distance learning requirements, overseen by parents; kids at home for the summer, without in-person camps or play dates; and in the fall, perhaps split school days or weeks. How best can the Museum can support families’ evolving needs? 

Right now, as our state begins cautiously to reopen, we want Discovery Museum to be part of the answer to a child's perhaps unspoken question, “Will things ever be normal again?”

Let’s face it, we are all stressed and our patience and will are strained. Even before the crisis, parents could feel stretched to be both productive leaders of a household and nurturing parents. Add the pressures of 24-hour-a-day parenting and teaching in a fearful time, and a lack of the extended support system of relatives, neighbors, teachers, and caregivers typically in children's lives, and it is clear that parents, too, are looking for a sense of normalcy, a release valve for stress

Now that school has ended and the normally carefree, joyous days of childhood summer are upon us, we are taking our cues from what the American Academy of Pediatrics has called the “therapeutic power of play.” The simple joy of having a family play experience--where kids can enjoy a familiar (if somewhat adapted) place and take the lead in learning--has the power to mitigate the sense of loss and lack of normalcy that weighs on us all. It is the chance, for maybe just an hour or two, to feel a little bit of the burden lifted.

We think families are ready for this. Nearly 1,000 of you responded to our survey about what the Discovery Museum could do to best support your return to the Museum. You said things such as:

I want the kids to be able to have some normalcy again.

I definitely want to get my kids out doing more things, so I'd like to come back.

We are so excited to visit the Museum soon!

And, you are both cautious and have high expectations of us:

How I feel about venturing out as things re-open changes by the moment. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Timed tickets and grossly restricting the number of attendees would really help to ease concerns.

[I want a] clean and stress-free environment ... the kids have already had enough corona virus stress, the thing I want least is to continue that stress in a fun place.

We trust that you will make the right decision on what is safe for the museum to open. 

I have full confidence in your desire to safely open.

Of course, the safety of our visitors and staff is our top priority. In order to make for a safe and welcoming experience, we have instituted a number of changes to our procedures and protocols. Changes include mask requirements, expanded cleaning and disinfecting, building and gallery capacity limits, one-way flows, timed ticketing, and more. For more information about our COVID-19 operating procedures, please visit the Plan Your Visit section of our website.

Now that Phase 3 of the governor's Reopening Massachusetts plan has begun, we are moving ahead in stages. This week we are welcoming a small number of guests to experience the Museum and give us feedback. On July 14 we kick off two weeks of Member Only days, and on July 28 we open to all. Advance ticket reservations are required for ALL visitors, including members; members can reserve tickets now through our website, non-members beginning July 26.

We want you to feel comfortable coming back to the Museum in whatever way works best for your family. Perhaps you will want to visit just a few of your favorite indoor galleries, spend most of your time enjoying our outdoor experiences, or visit several times for just a short while.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our community, our Free To Play month will let you do just that, without concern for cost. Visit the Museum between July 28 and August 23 (closed Mondays) and pay no admission.

Our special thanks go to our Title sponsor, The TJX Companies, Inc., for making Free To Play possible.

We have several goals in mind for the experience you and your children or grandchildren have when you come back to Discovery Museum. We want you to leave feeling a little less stressed. We want you to say to each other that you had fun. We want you to have a nice memory in your mind, and perhaps the next day find a new Discovery Museum-inspired way to have fun and learn at home.

We hope you will feel good about the experience of visiting Discovery Museum with your family, and a little more confident in our collective ability to get through this challenging time. And in the end to be, and feel, safe.

Thank you for being a friend of the Discovery Museum. We have felt that friendship during this time that the Museum needed to be closed, and hope to share back those good feelings with you as we reopen.

As always I welcome your thoughts, ideas, criticism at ngordon@discoveryacton.org.

Be well,

 

Neil

P.S. Many businesses, foundations, and individuals have supported us to help make a full month of free admission to the Museum possible. We could use your support, too! If you are able, please consider making a donation to support our Free To Play month, and help us give our shared community a chance to recapture that sense of normalcy that we all miss so much. Thank you.