Mission & History

Mission & Vision

The Discovery Museums inspire enduring curiosity and love of learning through interactive discovery, hands-on inquiry and scientific investigation.

The Discovery Museums will be the leading regional resource for the advocacy of discovery learning and environmental stewardship.  We will provide engaging and supportive settings for hands-on experiential learning and scientific investigation.  TDM will nurture curiosity and creativity, while fostering the exchange of ideas and life-long learning.  Children, adults, and educators will be inspired to be informed and contributing community members.

History

The Discovery Museums began with a stated community need for interactive, educational experiences for young children and their families in a museum setting in the Massachusetts region northwest of Boston. Founded by Acton resident Donald B. Verger and an original Board of community and educational leaders, The Children’s Discovery Museum opened in 1982. The Museums have evolved from a community-based children’s museum to an organization of two museums: a children’s museum and a science museum governed by a Board which has community, educational, and business representation on a local and national level. The Museums utilize advisors from the fields of early childhood, elementary, science and technology education and research; from preschools, elementary schools, junior and senior high schools, and universities. In its first year of operation, the Children’s Discovery Museum served 40,000 visitors. In 2014, the Museums served almost 172,000 people.

The Children’s Discovery Museum

In response to developmental needs and learning styles of toddlers through early elementary school children, The Children’s Discovery Museum is a hands-on, experiential, exhibits-based children’s museum.  The museum is located in a 3500 sq. ft., 120-year-old Victorian house abutted by conservation land. The natural setting and historical aspects of the museums' architecture are restored and maintained to compliment the community’s residential architecture and conservation land integrity. Exhibits are located in each room of the Victorian house, making creative use of all floors, walls, ceilings and closets.  The principal of “learning through play” based on the child’s natural developmental growth continues to be the underlying philosophy of all the museum's programs and exhibits.

The Science Discovery Museum

The Science Discovery Museum was developed in response to the community’s need for supplemental education and cohesive, interactive experiences in the sciences and math for older children, their families, and educators. The museum opened to the public in 1987 following a highly successful fundraising campaign which reflected local and national support from corporations, foundations, and the community. The exhibits and programs of the Science Discovery Museum are thematically based and coordinated according to specific sciences and are primarily designed for children ages six through teen years. Housed in an award-winning, three-floor, 8500 sq. ft. structure located behind the Children's Discovery Museum and nestled in a wooded landscape.  Exhibit theme areas and educational programs are designed and presented to engage the natural developmental growth of children and their need for in-depth experiences with educational content for discovery and exploration.

Discovery Woods Nature Playscape and Treehouse

Discovery Woods is a launching point for outdoor adventures and woodland exploration, featuring an inclusive, fully-accessible nature playscape. A huge, whimsical treehouse--built by DIY Network's The Treehouse Guys--stands as Discovery Woods’ centerpiece. Elevated trails with interactive sensory and observation stations along the way—including peepholes, periscopes, and listening tubes—prompt exploration and investigation. Adventurers can bounce on the wiggly bridge, zoom down the family-size slide, sway in the nest swing, and climb the cargo net, cultivating their physical activity and risk taking. They can explore, observe, and reflect in the woodland nook, rain garden, birdhouse village, beaver lodge, and acres of adjoining forest. Throughout, children can exercise creativity and strengthen building skills as they engineer structures and artistic pieces using found objects, logs, sticks, and stones.

Discovery Woods is inclusive and fully accessible, so that children and families can play and learn together regardless of mobility, developmental, or behavioral differences. Making the most of the site’s slope, visitors even access the treehouse via a level path—to find themselves high in the air.

Opening Celebration weekend is July 16 & 17, open from 9:00am to 4:00pm both days with music and food trucks. Kids 12 and under are free!

Our Future

The $1.5 million Discovery Woods is the realization of the first phase of the museums’ 2012 Campus Master Plan. In 2017, Phase II will revamp the 28-year-old Science Discovery Museum by doubling the size of the building, bringing all of the museums’ exhibits under one roof, adding brand new learning experiences for families, and providing modern visitor amenities. Leadership donors have already committed $7.8M toward the overall project goal of $8.4M.