Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum
September 2006 the Trustees of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation
met with Chris Riche and Gretchen Bietz to discuss an exciting
new project that Chris had envisioned for downtown Reno, the
Nevada Discovery Museum (NVDM). Believing that this project
would fill a void in educational experiences in Reno and would
be a major attraction for children and their families, where
they could satisfy their curiosity and be inspired to explore
new areas of learning, the Trustees pledged a gift of $750,000
to be paid over the next four years. That gift is commemorated
with the Cloud Climber exhibit as a tribute to Terry Lee and
her passion for bringing joy to children.
Over the next three years, NVDM reached out to the community
and raised close to $10 million toward the almost $20 million
needed to complete construction of the building and galleries.
At the same time, the Trustees were looking for a permanent
way to honor Terry Lee that would be highly visible in the
community. Because Terry Lee believed so strongly in serving
her community and in encouraging children’s creativity and
imagination, the Trustees felt that the Discovery Museum would
be the perfect way to honor her, and that her spirit would
be in the essence of the Museum. In late 2009 the Trustees
pledged a lead gift of $4 million, contingent upon NVDM raising
the additional $6 million to complete the capital campaign.
Given that challenge, a group of prominent members of the
community who believed strongly in the project and were already
major donors worked closely with the Trustees and NVDM staff
to leverage their influence and enthusiasm and convince others
to become involved and contribute to the capital campaign.
By July 2010 the challenge was met, and construction began
in September 2010. A year later, on September 10, 2011, the
Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (“The Discovery”)
celebrated its Grand Opening. The Trustees would like to thank
all the donors whose passion for this project is making the
dream a reality.
Since it opened, The Discovery has been a huge success by
• Over 6,700 family memberships were sold in the first year, nearly triple pre-opening projections.
• More than 235,000 people have visited The Discovery since it opened, with the highest single day attendance of 2,151 during the Children's Day Celebration on September 26, 2012.
• The Discovery will host more than 15,000 Washoe County School District students on field trips during the 2012/13 school year, with approximately 50 percent coming from Title 1 schools. Field trips have been completely booked since the museum opened.
• The Discovery offers family classes on weekends, educational series for children and families and seasonal camps. All are routinely filled to capacity.
• The Discovery has hosted events for numerous organizations in the community and is collaborating with others to reach out to as many children and families as possible.
The Trustees believe that Terry Lee is watching from above
with great pride and excitement. The Discovery is not only
benefiting the children and families who experience all it
has to offer, it has become one of the centerpieces of Reno's
downtown cultural renaissance and is on its way to becoming
nationally recognized as a major tourist attraction for our
Although The Discovery is open and generating lots of excitement,
ongoing support will be critical in order to maintain the
facility and bring in new, cutting-edge technologies and exhibits
that will keep the excitement alive. We hope you will join
us in continuing to support this new jewel in downtown Reno.
for the latest news on the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery
Museum, and more information on how to contribute or volunteer.
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