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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 ten years, many 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 2015 The Discovery added a new, large-scale permanent exhibition called 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 exhibition is middle and high school students. However, there is plenty of content that will engage adults and early learners as well.
Another addition to the museum that has proven attractive to visitors of all ages is Mindbender Mansion. This exciting exhibition features more than 40 brainteasers and group challenges guaranteed to test the brainpower and problem solving skills of even the most advanced puzzlers. Mindbender Mansion was initially unveiled as a temporary exhibition, but is now part of The Discovery’s permanent collection of exhibitions.
The latest addition to the museum’s educational 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 series is designed to share the amazing scientific research being done in our region with curious members of our community.
The next change to the hands-on experiences at The Discovery that museum visitors will witness is Energy/Energía. This new 1,800 square-foot, bilingual exhibition is schedule to open in May 2022 and will include more than 20 hands-on exhibits focused on energy generation, use, and storage. By featuring energy innovation happening right here in Northern Nevada, museum visitors will have the opportunity to explore foundational energy concepts, learn what it takes to solve energy challenges, and leave inspired to discover more.
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.