Foster Lifelong Learning

The Virginia Discovery Museum has been a vital community resource for families in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region for 40 years, and since 1981 our nonprofit Museum has relied on the generosity of friends and neighbors, businesses, and foundations to foster lifelong learning among children of all backgrounds. VDM is committed to inclusivity, and 25 percent of the Museum’s 70,000 annual visitors are admitted free of charge, including 8,000 underserved community members through our Sponsored Admission Program alone. Your financial support ensures that our youngest community members have a vibrant, diverse, clean, and safe space filled with educational and playful opportunities for discovery, cognitive development, and social interaction, regardless of a family’s ability to pay admission.

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How Does My Gift Help?

Carousel Restoration

For the Museum’s 40th birthday, VDM wants to give a gift back to the Charlottesville community! Our free-to-ride antique children’s carousel, which has delighted kids and families on the historic Downtown Mall since 2006, is receiving its first renovation in 15 years. Donated to the Museum by Fred W. Scott Jr., the carousel features seven stationary painted aluminum horses, all of which are 1910 castings by amusement park ride manufacturer William F. Mangels from carvings by renowned master carver Marcus C. Illions.

Your Gift: The Perry Foundation has pledged a generous matching grant, so your gift helps VDM repaint all seven horses, refurbish the carousel’s frame and canvas top, and install permanent informational signage, where donors who give $5,000 or more will appear as Brass Ring Riders.

Sponsored Admission Program

The Museum’s Sponsored Admission Program accounts for 8,000 visitors annually, or 11 percent of VDM’s total admissions each year. This program allows underserved children and families to utilize VDM’s exhibit space free of charge on sponsored daily admission visits and sponsored group field trips through their affiliations with 54 social service agencies.

Your Gift: Helps VDM keep the Sponsored Admission Program vibrant for qualifying visitors and partner organizations, expand its benefits to new organizations, and indirectly support the critical work of those local agencies.

Field Trips, Programs & Scholarships

VDM offers enrichment and learning opportunities through school and small group Field Trips and educational Programs, including weekly free-with-admission Drop-Ins for all ages, after-school Discovery Workshops for ages 4 to 8, half-day Camps for ages 4 to 8, and multi-week Chess Mates series for ages 6 and older.

Your Gift: Helps VDM stock craft supplies, STEM components, and other educational materials; continuously improve the quality of the Museum’s program offerings; introduce new programs; provide scholarships for fee-based classes and camps; and keep field trip costs low for local schools and community groups.

Exhibit Maintenance & Development

The Museum currently maintains 15 hands-on educational play areas over 6,000 square feet of exhibit space. Each exhibit is designed to engage children cognitively, physically, and socially, and our staff seeks to foster an environment in which children learn through exploratory and imaginative play and collaborative problem-solving.

Your Gift: Helps VDM keep exhibit components in working order, create new exhibit spaces, and ensure a safe and clean environment where children can enjoy exploratory and imaginative play.

Ways to Give

Thank you for supporting the Museum’s mission of fostering intellectual curiosity and development for all children in our community. VDM is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


Click the link and follow the prompts to make an online donation using a credit or debit card.

By Mail

Complete a donor card and mail to Virginia Discovery Museum, P.O. Box 1128, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Checks payable to “Virginia Discovery Museum.”

At AmazonSmile

Select “Virginia Discovery Museum” as your charitable organization, and AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of eligible purchases.

Contact Us

Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Contact Director of Operations Lindsay Jones at (434) 977-1025 x102 or to learn more about how you can support the Virginia Discovery Museum.