Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum
In September 2006, the Trustees of the Terry Lee Wells Foundation met with local businessman and father of two young boys, Chris Riche, to discuss his idea to build a discovery museum in downtown Reno. Chris believed 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 museum's Cloud Climber exhibit as a tribute to Terry Lee and her passion for bringing joy to children.
Over the next three years, the museum reached out to the community and raised close to $10 million toward the almost $20 million needed to complete construction of the building and exhibitions. At the same time, the Trustees were looking for a permanent way to honor Terry Lee that would be highly visible in the community she called home. Because Terry Lee believed so strongly in serving her community and in encouraging children's creativity and imagination, the Trustees felt that the 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 the museum 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 museum 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") opened to the public. The Trustees would like to thank all the donors whose passion for this project made the dream a reality.
In the nearly seven years since The Discovery opened, the Terry Lee Wells Foundation has continued to support the museum through four gifts contingent upon The Discovery securing matching donor support, each with a short period of time. Each challenge was met and exceeded before the required deadline, and the Trustees are extremely thankful that many new donors and others who have not supported The Discovery since the initial capital campaign were willing to help the museum meet those challenges.
In 2017, the Foundation pledged another large gift toward a new permanent exhibition entitled Nevada Land, Nevada Stories. This exciting reinterpretation of the existing Nevada Stories gallery will further the museum's efforts to offer an experience more in line with that of a science center while continuing to maintain the museum's strong connection to the state and region it serves.
Since it opened, The Discovery has been a huge success by any measure.
* More than 1,000,000 people have visited The Discovery since it opened. 183,091 people visited the museum in 2016 alone. Visitation in 2017 is expected to exceed 200,000.
* During the 2016/17 school year, 17,381 K-8th grade students visited the museum on a school field trip. 31% of those students were from schools with 50% or higher Free & Reduced Lunch program enrollment, an indicator of poverty.
* In 2016, The Discovery distributed $67,530 in donor-funded financial assistance for camps, field trips, memberships and daily admission.
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 role model among hands-on science centers.
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. 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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