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Updated 12/22/20: The Virginia Discovery Museum is currently closed to the public.

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Museum News & Updates

2020 in Review: Unprecedented Challenges & A Remarkable Community

Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020  |  10:01 a.m.

Two thousand twenty was a year of unprecedented challenges but also remarkable resilience for the Virginia Discovery Museum. As of the first week of March, the Museum had welcomed 50,994 visitors, 25 percent of whom had visited free of charge through VDM's Sponsored Admission Program and other underwritten programs. Based on these statistics for the first nine months of its fiscal year, the Museum was on track to welcome over 70,000 visitors and prepared to celebrate the 30th running of the Discovery Dash, VDM's biggest annual fundraiser and a beloved Charlottesville family tradition.

By mid-March, however, the COVID-19 pandemic had reached Virginia, and VDM closed its doors to help stem the spread of the virus. What our board and staff hoped would be a short time of closure, turned into the remainder of the 2020 calendar year, as we focused on protecting the health and safety of our community. For a mission-driven organization focused on hands-on learning, it has been difficult to see the Museum's galleries silent and empty and our beloved carousel chained shut day after day.

Still, these many months of closure have also been a time of resilience for the Museum, supported by community members who have made donations, purchased box kits, joined 12 weeks of virtual camp, and even participated in a generation-spanning virtual Discovery Challenge, which substituted for the Discovery Dash. Over 1,800 children have connected with VDM virtually or through socially distanced activities, filling our screens with their smiles and jumping with joy when we dropped kits off on doorsteps. The Museum is deeply thankful for the support of our community and for the partnership of fellow nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, City of Promise, Community Climate Collaborative, Elk Hill, Friendship Court, UVA Children's Hospital, and Wildrock, with whom VDM partnered during this challenging time to offer programs in support of our community.

Museums around the world have been severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The American Alliance of Museums predicts 30 percent of America’s museums will permanently cease operations by the end of 2020. Thanks to the support of our community and a recent grant from a national foundation, VDM will endure this challenging time to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2021. Whether you offered words of support, made a community connection or enrolled your child in a program, you are the reason the Virginia Discovery Museum has been able to navigate this difficult time, and we thank you.

Annual Report

2020 Donors


Thank You for Giving: We Surpassed Our $15,000 Goal

Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020  |  12:27 p.m.

We asked for your help, and you delivered in a huge way. Through your generosity, the Virginia Discovery Museum not only met its $15,000 goal during yesterday's Giving Tuesday, we surpassed it as you gave $16,040 and unlocked a matching $15,000 gift.

Thank you to everyone who gave and shared our call to action throughout this past week. Thank you to the families who have supported us over the last eight months through membership renewals, participation in programs, and donations. Thank you to the local businesses who have sponsored programs, underwritten at-home activity kits, donated services, and provided a platform for us to share what's happening at the Museum during our closure. Thank you to the community partners who have collaborated with us on fun and playful educational opportunities. Thank you to the volunteers who have given their time and talents to help with virtual programs, activity kit deliveries, and behind-the-scenes tasks.

This year, Giving Tuesday has been more than a single day ... it's been eight months of ongoing support, and we continue to be amazed by the incredible outpouring from our friends, neighbors, and community. We are so grateful that you have invested so generously in our future and in our community's children.

Unable to support the Museum financially but still want to help? There are so many ways you can give with your time and energy that have a positive impact:

  • Write a Positive Review
  • Tell Friends and Family About Us
  • Engage with Us on Social Media

As a small nonprofit with a limited marketing budget, we rely heavily on word-of-mouth and personal recommendations to reach new families and let people know about all the things the Museum has to offer. Leaving a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or TripAdvisor; telling your circle of influence about our programs; or dropping a quick "like" or comment on our Facebook and Instagram posts goes a long way toward increasing our visibility and reach.


Giving Tuesday: Help Us Reach Our $15,000 Goal

Posted: Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020  |  1:56 p.m.

The Virginia Discovery Museum has been a vital nonprofit community resource for families of all backgrounds in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region for nearly 40 years. This Giving Tuesday, VDM needs your support more than ever: the Museum has remained closed to the public since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result, has forfeited an anticipated $250,000 in operating revenue.

Despite this hardship, VDM has continued to deliver on its mission of providing learning through play to all children in our community through a robust offering of virtual programs and at-home activity resources. But the Museum needs your support until it can reopen its doors.

VDM has set a goal to raise $15,000 in donations through Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1, which will then unlock a matching $15,000 gift. Your donation can help the Museum in so many ways and can offer a way to teach your own child or children about the importance of supporting other families. Here are just some of the ways your gift makes a difference:

  • $25: Helps fund an at-home activity kit for a Sponsored Admission partner family
  • $50: Helps fund a scholarship for an after-school Discovery Workshop
  • $100: Helps fund a three-month supply of fun and varied art materials
  • $250: Helps fund books featuring characters of color for free, weekly storytimes
  • $250: Helps fund supplies for monthly STEAM Series and Tot Box programs
  • $500: Helps fund and maintain technology for virtual programs and daily operations

Thank you for helping to ensure that the Virginia Discovery Museum makes it to the other side of this pandemic, and our staff looks forward to seeing you there when it is safe for us to gather together again.

Donate Now


Race, Racism & Social Justice Resources for Families

Posted: Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020  |  9:30 a.m.

The Virginia Discovery Museum wants to support children and families as we find a path forward to unite, heal, and make meaningful change toward a just future where everyone in our community and throughout the world is treated with kindness, dignity, and respect. We’ve compiled a few resources to help you talk with your children about race and racism and raise kids who are empathetic, resilient, and inclusive.



The Museum Needs Your Help

Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2020  |  9:30 a.m.

On behalf of the board and staff of the Virginia Discovery Museum, we hope that you and your family are well and navigating new daily routines with patience and persistence. Our community, our country, and our world are facing uncertainty and disruption, which can be particularly challenging when you have young children at home. We understand why we can't go to school, daycare, the playground or the Museum, but young children are only confused about why beloved friends, teachers, and coaches are no longer part of their everyday routine. As parents ourselves, we share your challenges and concerns and are hopeful that our world will soon return to good health and to a society that has been made stronger by this difficult time.

We wish you the best in staying healthy and encourage you to visit VDM @ Home and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for experiments, crafts, and activities to help continue your child's learning at home while the Museum is closed. It is our hope that VDM will continue to be a resource to your family, both during this time of closure and when restrictions on gatherings are lifted.

As a public resource that depends on daily admissions, field trips, birthday parties, and program fees to keep its doors open, the Museum has been particularly hard-hit by this pandemic:

By closing since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum will forfeit an anticipated $100,000 in revenue, which will have a profound impact on VDM's long-term financial health.

  • If VDM is an important part of your family's life ...
  • If VDM was an important part of your family's life ...
  • If VDM may someday be an important part of your family's life ...

Please consider making a donation today. Your generosity will allow the Museum to survive these challenging times, share educational resources with families while we are closed, and reopen to the public as soon as it is safe. Thank you for being part of the VDM community, and if there is a way our organization may support you in this challenging time, please be in touch.


Janine Dozier & Beth Solak
Executive Directors, Virginia Discovery Museum

Donate Now


Introducing VDM @ Home

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020  |  5:57 p.m.

The Virginia Discovery Museum may be closed through at least April 11 as we do our part to help keep our community healthy, but that doesn’t mean the fun as to stop! Enjoy VDM at home by following along on Facebook and Instagram as we introduce a new, daily activity Monday through Thursday on social media and here on our website. Plus, don’t miss our collection of links to recommended daily online content and other resources to keep kids of all ages busy learning through play.

VDM @ Home


A Message from Our Directors

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020  |  3:15 p.m.

Dear Members of Our VDM Family:

The progress of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) throughout the world and across our country continues to be the subject of intense interest. We are following closely the Thomas Jefferson Health District of the Virginia Department of Health to monitor the latest information on COVID-19. While there are limited cases in Virginia at this time, we are continually reviewing and updating our response plan and have decided to close our doors starting March 13 and continuing through at least March 28.

We encourage you to stay informed by seeking accurate information from authoritative sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. The Thomas Jefferson Health District is also operating a hotline at (434) 972-6261, available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to respond to any questions or concerns you may have regarding the latest COVID-19 information.

In the meantime, please continue to follow recommended hygienic practices:

  • Properly and frequently wash hands.
  • Avoid touching nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve; follow with hand-washing.
  • Get an annual flu vaccine.
  • Ensure you and your family members are up-to-date with all recommended immunizations.
  • Stay home and keep children home when sick.

We are thankful for all of the support you give to the Museum. Our doors will reopen and programs will resume as soon as we are advised that it is safe. Please check our website for the most up-to-date information in regards to upcoming hours, cancellations, and closings. The safety and comfort of our VDM family is always at the forefront of all that we do.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Executive Directors Beth Solak and Janine Dozier at and, respectively.

Be well,

Beth Solak & Janine Dozier
Executive Directors, Virginia Discovery Museum

Resources for Families

Virginia Health & Safety Measures

Updates about COVID-19 in Virginia and additional information on measures being taken statewide to ensure health and safety.

Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus (PBS)

Tips for sharing age-appropriate facts, allaying fears, and empowering kids to fight germs with healthy habits.

Race & Social Justice Resources

Resources to talk with your children about race and racism and raise kids who are empathetic, resilient, and inclusive.

Virtual Programs

Bring VDM home with virtual programs and at-home activity kits and ideas for children of all ages.

Rescheduling & Refunds

Questions about rescheduling or refunds for programs, field trips, or parties? Contact Director of Operations Lindsay Jones.


Questions about how your membership has been affected? Contact Marketing Manager Matt Berman.

Museum Policies & FAQs

Policies we have in place to ensure the health and wellness of Virginia Discovery Museum visitors, volunteers, and staff.

Contact Us

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Visit the Contact Us page to find out how to best direct your inquiry or contact Director of Operations Lindsay Jones at