Creative Discovery Museum was awarded a $250,000 Museums of America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help fund the renovation and expansion of the Museum’s early childhood exhibit, Little Yellow House. The IMLS grant funds will directly support the Ignite Discovery: Creating the New CDM capital campaign that launched in January. CDM was one of 109 museums to be awarded the Museums of America grant nationally.
Officials said, "The Ignite Discovery renovation will transform the iconic Little Yellow House exhibit into the Little Farm House, doubling the size of the early childhood exhibit. From an expanded space for crawlers to the new barn and farm, the Little Farm House will offer a variety of opportunities for pretend play which is critical for social and cognitive development in children.
"Research shows that more than 90 percent of brain growth occurs in the first five to six years of life. Access to high-quality, early-learning experiences for children birth to five is necessary for success in kindergarten and long-term education. As the region’s leading expert in experiential education, CDM provides a child-centric experience that features hands-on educational activities, stimulates the senses and grows a child’s mind."
“We are thrilled to receive this grant from IMLS,” said Executive Director Henry Schulson. “Little Yellow House is one of our most popular exhibits for families with young children. Expanding the space will help us further our commitment to early learning, provide the building blocks for healthy brain development and increase the intellectual and social capacity of the children in our community and beyond.”
"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities."
CDM received several large contributions to Ignite Discovery during its 14-week closure: $200,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, $100,000 from the City of Chattanooga, $60,000 from Southface Good Use and $50,000 from the George R. Johnson Family Foundation.
“The support of our community during these difficult times has been tremendous,” said Mr. Schulson. “Despite taking a significant financial hit due to our spring closure, we are looking forward to a positive, and newly renovated, future.”
Due to COVID-19, the campaign was temporarily suspended, but will be officially re-ignited in September. The Museum and its investors are undertaking a $10 million dollar campaign to fund comprehensive renovations of its 43,000 square foot facility. The initiative is centered on three goals: "to ensure CDM remains a leader in experiential learning, a gathering place for all children and a gateway to a vibrant downtown Chattanooga." Over $6.7 million has been raised to date. The exhibit renovations are slated to be finished in 2021. Ignite Discovery is chaired by Susu and Paul Brock and Leah and Jay Hill.
For more information about Ignite Discovery: Creating the New CDM, visit ignitecdm.com or contact Katie Hanners, CDM’s director of advancement, at 423-648-6043.