FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ann Sgarzi
June 2, 2016
978-264-4200 ext. 23
Discovery Woods to open at The Discovery Museums in July, connecting kids with nature and launching the first phase of reimagining the entire campus
Inclusive, fully-accessible nature playscape features a huge, cool treehouse designed by DIY Networks’ The Treehouse Guys.
Opening Celebration July 16-17.
ACTON, MA – This July, The Discovery Museums opens Discovery Woods, a launching point for outdoor adventures and woodland exploration, featuring an inclusive, fully-accessible nature playscape with the coolest, biggest treehouse you’ve ever seen, built by DIY Network’s The Treehouse Guys. Thanks to leadership gifts and a transformational $4M in challenge grants from The Manton Foundation, Discovery Woods also marks the dramatic first phase of reimagining the Museums’ Acton, MA campus and facilities. An Opening Celebration on Saturday-Sunday, July 16-17, 9am-4pm, will welcome families with music, food trucks, and free admission for children ages 12 and under.
“Connecting to nature enhances children’s activity level, concentration, physical and mental health, and creativity. It’s essential for healthy development,” notes Neil Gordon, CEO of The Discovery Museums. “In keeping with The Discovery Museums’ tradition of meaningful, fun learning driven by kids’ natural curiosity, Discovery Woods invites families to explore the often-forgotten joy of unstructured outdoor play together.”
A huge, whimsical treehouse and learning center 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. An admission ticket to Discovery Woods includes admission to the Science and Children’s Discovery Museums.
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. “All children should have the opportunity to connect with nature in ways that are safe, available, and exciting,” says Valerie Fletcher, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, home of the New England Americans with Disabilities Act Center, and one of the museums’ accessibility advisors. “The museums considered inclusivity and accessibility throughout the planning of Discovery Woods, demonstrating what thoughtful, ahead-of-the-curve planning can achieve.”
Concord, MA architects Lemon-Brooke designed Discovery Woods, with general contracting by JM Coull, Inc. of Maynard, MA. The Treehouse Guys of Warren, VT—stars of their own DIY Network show—are integrating the site’s trees and milling much of the wood on-site. The DIY Network episode of The Treehouse Guys devoted to Discovery Woods will air this fall, including a time-lapse video of the entire construction process since its October 2015 groundbreaking.
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. Broad public outreach requesting support from the entire museum community is expected to begin in late 2016. The Discovery Museums are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
“We are expanding our capacity to serve families while creating an even richer learning environment for children and the adults in their lives,” said Gordon. “The completed building will better enable us to deliver experiences integrating art, science, invention, math, and engineering. It will provide more and better educational spaces for workshops, teacher professional development, and high-quality traveling exhibits. Perhaps most importantly, it will eliminate the frequent wait lists to get into the museum, and with full ADA compliance will enable us to welcome and serve all visitors well.”
“We are thrilled and humbled by the incredible level of support from our community and beyond that has brought us to this exciting milestone,” said Board of Directors Chair Bill Ryan. “Opening Discovery Woods is a tremendous step forward in the advancement of our mission to get more kids outside to reap the many fundamental benefits of outdoor play. We are well on our way to an even stronger and more exciting Discovery Museums.”
About The Discovery Museums
The Discovery Museums are the children’s and science museums of Metrowest Boston. Two great museums and the new Discovery Woods nature playscape and treehouse—for one admission price—blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus in Acton, MA, located about 20 miles west of Boston. The Museums serve families and schools from towns throughout the region, with a commitment to informal education that enhances classroom learning. The hands-on, playful exhibits, developed by professional educators, inspire curiosity, exploration, experimentation, and imagination. The Discovery Museums combine manageable scale, convenient location and free parking to provide a fun and engaging experience where children and adults can discover their world together. The Discovery Museum are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information please visit www.discoverymuseums.org.
The Discovery Museums’ programming is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.