Discovery World's expansion plans have been in the news lately, and for good reason. The addition of almost 20,000 square feet of accessible public space, including a new entrance, a new pavilion and added permanent exhibits, will transform the look and feel of the lakefront science museum.
But the reasoning behind the planned expansion is much more substantive. Discovery World's public relations manager Paul Fladten explains, "The reason we exist is to have impact on our community and to inspire more kids to envision themselves as future members of the workforce." And the revamping of the museum's facilities will allow its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming to reach more Milwaukee-area students in a more targeted manner.
The added space will allow Discovery World to host more students for field trips. Fladten says the building is currently "maxed out for field trips." During the busiest months, April and May, the museum has to actually turn schools away. And the students who are able to be accommodated are often forced to eat their lunches as early as 10:30 a.m. The additional lunchroom space planned in the expansion will accommodate 275 kids at one time.
The added exhibit space will allow Discovery World to host the most popular traveling exhibits. While the museum has had traveling exhibits in the past, the limited space has meant that some portions of the exhibits have not been able to be displayed.
In addition to temporary exhibits, the new space will allow new permanent exhibits, including a health-focused exhibition, and will result in an expanded reach of Discovery World's most popular educational events, such as Girls & STEM, Love Your Great Lakes and Sci-Fi Family Day.
It's anticipated that up to 100,000 more visitors per year will be able to be accommodated as a result of the expansion, and those visitors will be able to better experience the museum's high-focus programs, which, according to Fladten, "immerse students in STEM programs for ours at a time and direct their energy toward real-world applications and job skills."