Lin Erickson, Executive Director and CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center, has issued the following statement regarding recent news media reports:
“Recent news media reports offer the Da Vinci Science Center an opportunity to provide information about the exciting, market-driven process we have undertaken to determine how we can fulfill our mission to bring science to life and lives to science with the greatest impact on the students, families, and school in the greater Lehigh Valley region.
“As news reports have indicated, the Da Vinci Science Center has enjoyed significant growth in recent years. Since the 2009 fiscal year, the height of the recession, total annual participation in Da Vinci Science Center experiences – both at the Center and off-site – has grown 70 percent. We achieved an all-time high of 127,720 during our fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. With two-thirds of our current fiscal year completed, we are ahead of last year’s record-breaking pace. We also have been able to operate in the black financially on a consistent basis.
“Our success and the growing demand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or STEM – education inspired us to consider how we can increase our impact in the communities we serve. That consideration began in the fall of 2014 when the Center’s Board of Trustees and staff leadership initiated a data-driven examination of the Center’s performance and development of a new strategic plan.
“Assessment of our performance included a benchmarking study by White Oak Associates – an internationally-prominent museum planning firm based in Marblehead, Mass. The White Oak study compared the Da Vinci Science Center with other science centers and museums in markets similar in size to the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) has projected that the Lehigh Valley Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of more than 827,000 people will add more than 226,000 people by the year 2040.
“The White Oak study affirmed the feedback we have been receiving from those we serve – that the Da Vinci Science Center has served its community well with the resources available, but that there is a much greater potential to serve more people and to increase our impact. The study concluded that our potential can best be achieved by dramatically increasing our exhibit experience.
“In September 2015, the Center’s Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan for 2016-2019 that directed us to explore the potential for a major expansion to present world-class exhibits and learning experiences for the nearly one million people in our surrounding area. Since then, we have been conducting an expansion feasibility study with assistance from museum planning consultant Joseph D. Moore and overseen by the Board of Trustees and its Strategic Planning and Oversight Committee.
“We are exploring several long-term options – including an expansion of our current site at Cedar Crest College, expanding at a new site in the Lehigh Valley while continuing to operate our current facility, expanding at a new site in the Lehigh Valley in place of the current facility, and re-configuring our current facility to make it more efficient without an expansion. As reported in the news media, we are looking at a wide range of ideas, up to, and including, a large-scale aquarium.
“We are using a very methodical and data-driven process to evaluate our long-term options, and we do not expect to draw any conclusions for several months. Should we decide to expand, it will then take several years to accomplish that work. New sites are proposed on a regular basis requiring our consideration.
“Our guiding principle throughout the process will be our ability to fulfill our mission of bringing science to life and lives to science for as many people in the greater Lehigh Valley area as possible, including those with the greatest needs.
“As always, we thank everyone for their continued support. We are honored to serve the Lehigh Valley region, and look forward to doing so in the most effective ways for future generations.”
News Media Contact @DSC: Dennis Zehner
, 484.664.1002, Ext. 112
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