Since re-opening its doors January 2012, the Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery has welcomed more than 100,000 people, including Arkansans and visitors from 49 states and several foreign countries. During that time, more than 1,600 membership packages have been purchased.
"We anticipated an increase in visitation and memberships, given the fact that we had been closed for nearly a year for a major renovation. But the magnitude of the increase in such a short period of time has been pretty phenomenal," said Nan Selz, executive director of the museum. "What's even better is that we keep seeing people return. There is so much to explore at the science center. It lends itself to new experiences each visit," she added.
The museum closed for renovation April 2011, and re-opened January 14. At 2010's six-month mark, attendance was nearly 60,000. Since January 2012, more than 100,000 people have visited the facility.
In 2010, membership sales were close to 500. As of July 15, membership sales neared 1,700. Membership package levels include basic, family and contributing. Family memberships make up the bulk of sales, and can include up to five people. Member benefits include free admission for one year, free admission to hundreds of science and children's museums nationwide, discounts on store purchases, summer camps and birthday parties, and museum special events.
"The Museum of Discovery clearly provides a substantial impact to the community, both economically and culturally," stated Mark Goodman, director of the Center for Economic Development Education at UALR's Institute for Economic Advancement. "The growth in membership and attendance correlates with greater foot traffic and likely spending in the River Market District, as well as increasing revenues to Little Rock and the region," he added. The museum is working to develop an economic impact survey.
In recent years, the museum has been known as a kid's facility, and children continue to be a vital focus as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education becomes increasingly necessary.
"Science and technology keep forging ahead at lightning speed. We understand the importance of engaging young people and sparking an interest in these areas in an effort to help guide them towards careers in those fields," said Selz. "In the long run, we contribute to the state's economic landscape when we help provide a workforce knowledgeable about science and technology," she emphasized. The museum is the leading resource for informal science education in central Arkansas.
In addition to keeping youth education top of mind, the museum staff has developed programming for other audiences. The monthly "Science after Dark" series caters to people ages 21 and older, giving adults an opportunity to learn about science in a social setting. And, the museum has partnered with the University of Arkansas 4H ExCEL Program to introduce fresh, innovative team-building programs in a unique atmosphere. Additionally, companies have begun to rent the Museum for corporate family recreational events, providing their employees and families the opportunity to have fun in a different, non-traditional environment.
The Explore Store retail space offers numerous, one-of-kind educational items for all ages. They are researched and reviewed. Equally important is their relevance to the Museum's science focus.
The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery's mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment. The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded the Museum a $9.2 million grant solely dedicated to the renovation, which paid for updates to 44,000 square feet of existing space, the addition of 6,000 square feet, and the installation of nearly 90 new exhibits throughout the facility.
Admission: $10 adults; $8 ages 1-12; free under 1; members free
Phone Number: 501.396.7050
Website: click here
Social Media Links: www.facebook.com/museumofdiscovery and www.twitter.com/arkmod
Membership Package Prices: Basic - $60; Family - $85; Contributing - $125