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There was a time when the museum experience at The Discovery was designed to appeal predominantly to children ages 12 and under, but that time is gone. Over the past five years, a great number of changes and additions have been made to the museum that have transformed it into a hands-on science center for learners of all ages — from 1 to 101.
For example, in July 2015 The Discovery added a new, large-scale exhibition entitled Inside Out: an Anatomy Experience. Inside Out explores the curiosities of human anatomy and goes in-depth into the interesting ways our bodies work, grow, age and heal. The primary audience for this permanent addition to the museum is middle and high school students. However, there is plenty of content that will engage adults and early learners as well.
Another recent addition to the museum – although temporary – that has proven attractive to visitors of all ages is A T. rex Named Sue. This exciting exhibition from The Field Museum in Chicago features a 42-foot-long cast of “Sue,” the largest, most complete, best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.
The latest addition to the museum’s programs targeted specifically at adult learners is a lecture series, created in partnership with the Desert Research Institute (DRI), called Science Distilled. Science Distilled events are held at various locations throughout Reno and feature presentations from DRI researchers and experts from other local organizations. This new series is designed to share the amazing scientific research being done in our region with curious members of our community.
So why would an organization founded as a children’s museum want to morph into a science center? The answer is simple: to broaden the impact of its mission. A science center can serve learners of all ages, children included, with relevant and impactful science learning opportunities. That task is not so easy for a children’s museum. By functioning as a science center in our community, The Discovery can serve early learners, adults and a very important segment of our population, teens. By cultivating the more in-depth learning experiences found in a science center, The Discovery helps raise the bar for learning opportunities in our community.
The results of The Discovery’s transformation are already beginning to be seen. In 2016 alone, The Discovery welcomed more than 184,000 eager visitors through its doors. Locals are proud to have The Discovery as an exemplar in our community, and tourists are impressed that our region is home to such a large-scale science center. With the continued support of members, volunteers and donors, The Discovery will continue its transformation and its mission to inspire by being the place to explore science.