The mission of the Discovery Museum is to foster family and youth-inspired learning by creating experiences to explore ourselves, our valley, our world and beyond. The museum’s exhibit and program-based ‘please touch’ atmosphere engenders the best in self-discovery for children and their families.
In 1996, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum first opened its doors in a small strip mall in Santa Maria. In 2004, the museum completed a capital campaign and relocated to their current downtown location in the old Cola-Cola bottling warehouse. Now celebrating 20 years as the only children’s museum in Santa Barbara County, this 13,000 square foot facility attracts over 31,000 children and their families every year. The Discovery Museum is fun for all ages, with 40 “please touch” exhibit areas, weekly programs and special events that explore ourselves, our valley, our world and beyond.
When children come through the doors of the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, they enter a vibrant world of interactive play. They can find out about the migratory habits of whales while standing in The Belly of the Whale, learn about paleontology in Trouble in the Tar Pits, see the importance of engineering in our daily lives through Simple Machines that Work, or indulge artistic impulses at the Creation Station. Plans for a new space launch exhibit, a new science of farming exhibit, a farm-to-table Discovery Diner that inspires good nutrition and exercise, a Magic Treehouse reading center, and an expanded toddler area are just a few of the facility developments currently underway.
The Discovery Museum is the brainchild of a small group of parents wanting to bring more interactive learning to the children of Santa Maria Valley. A lead gift was provided by R.H. Tesene, a Santa Maria native wishing to create a permanent home for his BBQ Hall of Fame. He realized the importance of documenting the rich history and culture of the Santa Maria Valley, including barbecue culture, and gave $400,000 to launch the museum forward.
Children who come to the Discovery Museum see that learning is fun and are inspired to find out more about the world around them, whether in the classroom or at home. With new exhibits and weekly programming, including more STEM offerings, the museum is working hard to grow the next generation of innovators, problem-solvers, critical thinkers and leaders in our community.
The Discovery Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving schools, families and youth groups from all over the Central Coast of California.