Dorothy Lemelson, known affectionately as Dolly, passed away on March 10, 2021 at the age of 94. Dorothy dedicated her life to empowering people to make the world a better place, particularly through the process of invention and innovation. Dorothy, along with her husband Jerome, founded The Lemelson Foundation in 1992, and she later launched the Dorothy Lemelson Foundation in 1997. The Dorothy Lemelson Foundation focuses on supporting the education of at-risk youth in Nevada and Oregon and has generously supported the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (The Discovery) since 2009.
Dorothy had an immeasurable impact on the Northern Nevada community and was instrumental in making The Discovery a reality. Through her Foundation, Dorothy generously supported The Discovery’s capital campaign before the museum opened in 2011, and continued championing the museum’s mission through Spark!Lab Smithsonian (known simply as Spark!Lab), one of our most popular exhibitions. The original Spark!Lab Smithsonian is part of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, located in the National Museum of American History.
With Dorothy’s support, The Discovery was the first museum in the nation to partner with the National Museum of American History to bring Spark!Labs into museums throughout the United States. Spark!Lab’s success at The Discovery was so well received that seven more locations have been added to the Spark!Lab National Network since 2012.
Dorothy will be dearly missed, and her legacy will live on at The Discovery for generations to come.