Discovery museum

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum excited, proud to reopen | Chamber Spotlight | Valley life

It has been difficult to reopen the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum after extended closures of the facility during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but with the implementation of new safety procedures and a smooth opening during the winter, the discovery museum is ready to welcome the community again.




Molly Schiff, Director of Community and Membership Engagement for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, spoke with Donna Beal, Program Director of the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum and Rebecca Thomas Cole, Board Member from SMVDM, on the impact of the coronavirus closure on the Discovery Museum and how they plan to reopen to the public.




Our region is at the center of the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, a community-created facility that is committed to making the world we live in a better understood and welcoming place for children and families of the region.

It has been difficult to reopen the Discovery Museum after prolonged closures at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but with the implementation of new safety procedures and a smooth opening during the winter, the Discovery Museum is ready to welcome visitors once inside. again.

The museum has grown from a makeshift location in downtown Santa Maria 25 years ago to a large, custom-designed facility at 705 S. McClelland St. in Santa Maria.

Through changes in programs, exhibits and locations, as well as recent modifications and closures in response to the pandemic, the museum has always strived to provide children with a deeper understanding of the world and the city. that surrounds them.

“Services have changed over the years based on what’s relevant in the community,” said board member Rebecca Thomas Cole. “We really tried to create a space that showcases different parts of what’s going on in our community.”

Thomas Cole pointed out that the exhibits and educational programs offered at the museum are not only focused on different parts of the community, but have been created in partnership with local businesses and industry leaders. “We have a banking and business services section for kids to learn about money. Moxie contributed for a dining space. We have a huge Vandenberg exhibit in partnership with them and other donors.”






Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum program director Donna Beal, left, speaks during an interview with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, while Rebecca Thomas Cole, member of the board of directors, listening.




The hard work and ingenuity of Discovery Museum staff and Board of Trustees to create an immersive in-person learning facility over the past quarter century has been tested over the past two years due to precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Discovery Museum was closed to the public in 2020 and most of 2021, and only opened with limited services late last year. Donna Beal, the museum’s program manager, described the reopening as a smooth reopening.

“This soft reopening has been really epic, I think,” Beal said. “We had two winter camps that we ran over winter break – a robotics camp that we ran in partnership with the Orcutt Academy High School Spartatronics team and a discovery space camp in partnership with Vandenberg Space. Basic strength.”

One program developed during the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to reach children and spark their imaginations was the creation of take-out activity bags. Activity bags were available for purchase and offered kids a few STEM-related items to play with at home. The program has been so successful that the Discovery Museum has decided to continue the program once it reopens.

“Each month we have a different activity bag for people who are available to come to the museum to purchase it, or when they leave the museum to take a bit of the museum home with them,” Beal explained.

The bags fit into a general monthly theme, with February focusing on ‘on the farm’, in conjunction with the museum’s agricultural exhibit. Next month’s theme will be “Blowing in the Wind,” which accompanies one of the museum’s most popular exhibits, “Catching Air.”

While staff are excited to be open again, families must pre-register 48 hours before going to the Discovery Museum.

In addition to the obligation to register, it is a question of returning to enlighten the minds of children thanks to fun and playful activities for the museum. “It thrills me beyond measure to see the children’s faces light up in different parts of the museum based on what they like to do and what their interests are,” Beal said.







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The Discovery Museum is full of interactive exhibits that allow children and parents to explore the world around them.










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After a soft opening this winter, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is ready to reopen. To visit, visitors must pre-register with the museum 48 hours in advance.




Donna Beal, Program Director of the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, speaks with a member of the museum staff.

This article was produced in partnership with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. Jason Anderson is the Santa Maria Times Digital Producer. He can be reached at 805-739-2213