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The Discovery Place Science in Charlotte North Carolina is part of a network of four museums including Discovery Place Nature near Freedom Park and Discovery Place Kids with two locations at Huntersville and Rockingham.
The Discovery Place offers exhibits ranging from science to marine life with a lot of hands on activities meant to inspire kids of all ages and even adults. The Discovery Place is a leader in Science Technology Engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the Carolinas.
Besides offering exhibits and hands on experiences for children, the Discovery Place is also used as a professional development place for pre k – 12 teachers in the region. Discovery Place Science really inspires and transforms the way science, technology and nature are explored by people of different ages.
Besides exhibits at the museum, Discovery Place continues to inspire people to continue learning about nature and science through different outreach programs and events. For instance they have nature exploration weekends for adults and kids, after school programs, school outreach programs, and so much more.
The history of Discovery Place starts way back in 1946 when a school teacher named Laura Owens had the thought of opening a small museum on Cecil Street in Charlotte. She had been receiving objects, live animals, specimens from community members and from the environment and decided her students needed a hands on environment where they could experience all those things.
Her small experiment was so well received that the community led by the junior league of Charlotte and the Lion’s Club worked with Mecklenburg County to develop a new Children’s Nature Center. This building was situated adjacent to Freedom Park for easy access to the outdoors.
The new facility was officially opened in 1951. It was the first one of its kind in the region allowing families to enjoy nature. The community was pumped by the hands-on approach adopted by the museum. In 1961, the museum opened a planetarium to educate students about the skies.
By the 1970s the Discovery Museum had become one of the most famous in the region. The community approved funds to expand and open a comprehensive hands-on museum for science and technology.
In 1981, the new Discovery Museum opened its doors to the public. Located at 301 North Tyron Street with 72,000 square feet of space, the new museum was meant to also encourage uptown development and provide access to the growing Charlotte besides being the epitome for hands-on experience of science and nature.
Since then the museum has continued to grow with more exhibitions and facilities being added. For instance, in 1986 exhibition space was added to cater for travel exhibitions, in 1991 the Charlotte observer IMAX dome was opened and soon after the Carol Grotnes Belk Education and parking complex was completed.
Renovations were carried out in 2010 completely modernizing and transforming the museum into what it is today. State of the art labs and new interactive exhibitions were added in this renovation exercise costing $31.6 million and lasting 18 months.
As demand for learning and hands-on experiences continue to soar, the Discovery Museum continued to expand opening the Discovery Place Kids in 2010 at Huntersville and the one in Rockingham in 2013.
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