Discovery Museum Corner of 3rd and F Streets, Old Town Eureka (photo from Website)
Unfortunately, all the play money that has been stuffed into the real cash register over the years won’t save the beloved hands-on Discovery Museum in Eureka. The museum may have to shut its doors. Thousands of kids have begged parents to take them every year. The lucky ones get to experience everything from steering a fishing ship while wearing a real life vest to examining the hydrology of dams to participating in countless hours of grocery shopping with pretend food, fake cash, and miniature carts.
According to Executive Director Lynn Langdon, about 12,000 kids and adults have opened the glass doors to a children’s wonderland this past year. Within the colorful, cozy space, children can participate in educational programs or just explore. The museum offers a variety of crawl through, slide on, turn the crank experiences that excite little ones and grownups alike for only $4 per person. The place is a popular destination for everyone from schoolteachers bringing classes of field trips to grandparents wanting to spend time with the young ones in their life to harried young mothers wanting to read a book while their kid plays.
The gift shop also offers fun and education toys and books that make it a destination for many Christmas shoppers. This month the museum also offers a Holiday Gift Workshop where “children make gifts for family and friends while learning about different holidays of the winter season.”
The Discovery Museum’s budget is $180,000 annually (averaging a mere $15 per person experiencing the museum.) But unfortunately, the museum isn’t making ends meet. It has almost drained its savings account. And the museum doesn’t have enough funds to continue to keep the doors open until its next big fundraiser in March. They are asking locals to chip in. “Love the Discovery Museum?” chirps the ad on their homepage. “Have the urge to donate to a non-profit? Well here’s your chance! Help us get 100 people to donate $100 to the Discovery Museum by December 31, 2012. All contributions are tax deductible!”
Doors could close in early 2013 if their funding goals aren’t met. If that happens, parents, teachers, and especially children in Humboldt County will lose out on educational and fun activities that will be difficult to replace.
The popular Discovery Museum in Old Town Eureka is experiencing a financial crisis. Several of the Museum’s major business donors have retired or closed shop. Adding in the increased costs of doing business, including rent and insurance, the organization is left in a financial pinch. Without immediate and on-going financial support the Museum will not be able to remain open.
Executive Director Lynn Langdon says, “The Museum runs incredible programs for our youth. It is a community anchor for families, and would be a major loss to not provide these types of learning opportunities for children.” Popular programs include Pal Camp in Freshwater, Young Discoverers, Kids Alive, Playgroup and Family Fun Night. The Museum also offers a one-of-a-kind discovery gift shop and dozens of educational exhibits open to all residents. It continues to be a popular place for school field trips giving teachers another tool for hands-on lessons.
The Museum’s budget runs under $180,000/year. Every year $8,000-$10,000 has been pulled from the Museum’s savings account to cover costs. That account is almost depleted.
The Discovery Museum’s main fundraiser is the well-known Perilous Plunge. Hundreds of community members raise money and jump into the cold Humboldt Bay every March wearing creative costumes. Langdon says the Museum’s financial crisis cannot wait until March; they need donations before then to continue to operate the Museum and organize the Plunge which is scheduled for March 9, 2013. She adds that even if it’s a record breaking year for this big event, it will not be enough to sustain the Museum without other sources of funds.
Langdon is staying positive during this hard time stating, “Museum staff, Board of Directors, volunteers and programs are stronger than ever. We will continue on with our strong momentum and stay optimistic that the community will stand behind us and continue to show their support.”
Funds are needed in order to insure the doors will stay open and the quality of programs remains at its current levels. Doors could close in early 2013 if funding is not received. To learn more about the Museum and ways to help visit their website at www.discovery-museum.org or call (707) 443-9694.