Discovery museum

Discovery Museum in Bridgeport reopens under the direction of the University of the Sacred Heart

In March 2020, the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport was forced to close when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. But unlike other cultural institutions, the establishment remained closed when the state gave the green light to reopen in June 2020.

From left to right, John J. Petillo, President of the University of the Sacred Heart, Erika Eng, Executive Director of Discovery, Robert A. Panza, President of Discovery, and Michael Alfano, Dean of Farrington College of Education. Photos by Phil Hall.

Instead of waving back to the public, the establishment has begun talks with the University of the Sacred Heart – located down the street from the museum on the Fairfield side of Park Avenue – about the possibility of a new union. The school and museum announced in November that they had signed an agreement with Sacred Heart to take over management of the Discovery and coordinate a state-funded $ 1.8 million upgrade.

Fast forward to September 17, when an inauguration ceremony was held at the new science center and discovery planetarium of the University of the Sacred Heart, before reopening to the general public on September 25.

“Last year the Covid pandemic hit us all very hard,” Discovery President Robert A. Panza said. “And while Discovery has pursued many virtual learning programs, we have also recognized the need to modernize, re-energize and reinvent our institution for years to come. “

Discovery Executive Director Erika Eng told the opening ceremony audience that the reopening of the facility was “by far the most exciting day of my career” and she pledged to hand the Discovery over to the first. plan of the local educational environment.

“I grew up in Yonkers, New York, and attended museum attraction school myself,” she said, referring to that city’s Hudson River Museum. “And without that experience and that additional enrichment, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Part of the dinosaur exhibit.

“I see the value, purpose and importance of informal education institutions and their partnerships in the community and in partnership with a local university,” she said. “And now we know that a big chunk of the job market is made up of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs. the path through higher education and beyond.

Eng explained that with the contribution of the Sacred Heart, the museum was able to “install new infrastructure from top to bottom, which has allowed us to increase the technology that we use in all of our exhibits to bring ourselves to the fore. in some cases of technological experiment, including our planetarium, which is the most advanced in the state at present.

Among the improvements, she continued, were the installation of a new fiber-optic internet, new phones and new technological infrastructure security. She also praised the university for taking “things like landscaping and janitorial services out of my budget, allowing me to make them appropriate for programming, which is our most important thing.”

Farrington College of Education Dean Michael Alfano praised the efforts of the Sacred Heart for using the facility to extend STEM education to the next generation of scientists and engineers.

A replica of a lunar lander.

“On the programming side, everything you will see today has been reported by all of our colleges in the university,” Alfano said. “We have students and faculty who have dedicated their time, energy and expertise to the exhibits that are here. “

And the president of the University of the Sacred Heart, John J. Petillo, has promised the museum would be a work in progress that continues to grow and expand over time.

“I hope we will have more exhibitions over the months and years,” he said.


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