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  Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum

In 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 any measure.

• 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 community.

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. Visit www.nvdm.org 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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