Discovery Museum ramps up fundraising efforts to complete space exhibit

It hasn’t been the easiest of years and that’s certainly true for the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.

Statewide restrictions on indoor gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic have either forced the museum to close its doors or enforce capacity restrictions at various points throughout 2020. As it stands today, the museum remains closed.

One of the hardest parts about the pandemic has been the challenges in finding funding. In February 2020, the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum was celebrating a $40,000 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation. The money would be used toward the construction of the long-planned 3-2-1 Blast Off! exhibit, an interactive rocket climber-playscape that teaches children about space and the space program.

But when COVID-19 began to shut everything down, additional funding sources became scarce, putting the project on hold.

Recently, the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum celebrated a $5,000 grant from the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation. And now the museum is ramping up its fundraising efforts to get the 3-2-1- Blast Off! exhibit back on the launch pad.

A change collector in the lobby of the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum is slowly but surely raising funds, coin by coin. The museum is accepting individual donations online. And the museum has begun to more actively promote sponsorship opportunities to local organizations.

The museum is currently about $150,000 from its goal.

“If the original funding would have come through, the exhibit was supposed to be completed by spring. But now we’re at least nine months behind plans,” says Lisa Phelps, executive director of the museum.

“We’re still super excited about it, even though there have been bumps in the road. We’re shooting to get it done and get it funded. We’re really looking forward to it.”

The exhibit itself is an interactive multi-story rocket climber where children start at mission control, climb through the atmosphere and into space, where they can then communicate back down to mission control.

It’s a hands-on experience that is STEM-heavy, says Phelps.

“It’s such a cool exhibit. There’s nothing like it in Michigan,” she says. “It’s going to eventually be an amazing exhibit to have here that will draw a lot of field trips and even some students that are older than what we’re used to seeing.”

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