the new discovery museum

If you haven’t already heard, the construction of the new building at the Discovery Museum in Acton, Massachusetts has been completed and will open its doors with a celebration weekend, March 3rd – 4th, 2018.  We got a sneak peek during a members preview day and were blown away by the sheer size of the new building; its spacious and modern feel; and how the museum managed to combine the elements of two buildings into one.

That’s right: if you’re familiar with the Discovery Museum then you’ll know that it isn’t actually new at all.  It has been around for 35 years and up until a few months ago, was comprised of two separate buildings: the little old house behind Bessie and the big science building by the parking lot.  The expanded and newly renovated science building is for all ages and is twice the size. The original Victorian home will close once this new building opens, but many of the house’s elements have been transformed to the new space.  Bessie the dinosaur will remain in her location so you can still stop by to see her and find out which hat she’s currently wearing.

The newly renovated space is open, airy, and welcoming at the same time. There’s a cute storefront next to the greeting desk, and there are cubbies throughout the museum where guests may store things during their visit.

One of the first areas that we came upon was the water area.  And let me tell you, we could’ve spent a couple of hours in there alone!  There are a few different stations for kids to move around in to try their hand at ways to interact with water.  Our favorite was the Lego Duplo table that we changed into a pool and reservoir. Be warned!  You will get a little bit wet in this section!

There is something for everyone at all ages and stages at the museum.  There is a special birth to 3-years-old section (gated) specifically designed for parents with very little humans to be able to play around in, including a curtained room specifically for nursing mothers (with a pretty cushy rocking chair too!).

We’ve been going to the Discovery Museum ever since our daughter was 2.5 years old, so it’s a little bittersweet that the “old” house that she adored as she grew up will no longer be there.  The museum did a great job of bringing most of those elements into the new structure, so it was fun watching her (now at 6 years old) point at things as we walked through the building and hearing her say, “Oh!  I remember that!”

One of the spaces that we were most amazed by is the da Vinci workshop.  This is the space where you can seriously get your craft on!  The older version had roughly 6-8 seats around one circular table.  Look at this gorgeous studio!  So much more elbow room and access to a lot of neat recycled materials to make just about anything you can imagine.

The renovated museum offers many STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) experiences throughout.  It also includes favorites from the original building such as the diner, train room, and ship room with a little bit of reimagination and tweaking. We love how all of the exhibits are hands-on and interactive.  And yes!  The harmonograph is still there!

And while we enjoyed the exhibits in the old science building, we found so many new ones in the renovated space.  Spinning sand tables, light energy exhibits, and a whole lot more to explore.

If you’re visiting the Boston area, this museum is worth the half hour drive out of the city.  There’s free parking (which you won’t find at any of the attractions downtown!), a ton of exhibits to keep kids busy all day, and don’t forget Discovery Woods (the biggest treehouse!) is right outside!  If you’re local, I highly recommend getting a membership as it will pay for itself in a couple of visits (and you won’t have to fight for the library discount pass!).

The renovated building celebration party will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 3rd and 4th, 2018 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm each day.  Children 12 and under will be admitted for free!   The photos don’t do the place any justice: you really need to get out and experience the fun for yourself!

The Discovery Museum
177 Main Street (Route 27)
Acton, MA 01720


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