About Us

Whether within the walls in Chattanooga or across the nation through its outreach programs, Creative Discovery Museum (CDM) is a leader in engaging the senses, inspiring exploration and igniting children’s passion for learning through play.

Research has long proven that play is the work of childhood. Through play, children gain mental, physical, and social skills necessary to succeed in their adult lives. CDM is a nonprofit organization, prime tourist attraction, the region’s expert in experiential learning and a vital educational resource collaborating with community partners across our region.

Our Mission

To inspire all children to explore, innovate, create, and play.

Our Vision

To make our community the best place for a child to grow up.

Code of Conduct +
We value the diversity, inclusivity, well-being, and education of our visitors, staff, and volunteers. We respect all backgrounds, beliefs, and diversity as it relates to age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economics, and family structure.

Our Museum History

The idea for CDM was born in 1989 as the board of the Hunter Museum of American Art evaluated the viability of developing a children’s wing. The board recommended a separate children’s museum be created as part of the revitalization of downtown. CDM was incorporated in 1992 and opened in 1995.

It quickly evolved into a multi-disciplinary, educational institution, utilizing interactive programs and exhibits to explore art, music, science and technology. In 2004, CDM acquired the NewsChannel9 Science Theater in Northgate Mall which has become a key component of its science education efforts. The Science Theater relocated to the Museum’s main campus in 2010. In 2005, the Museum completed a major renovation which included the installation of the RiverPlay exhibit, an outdoor rooftop exhibit focusing on simple machines, and Buzz Alley exploring the world of bees.

Today, CDM is one of Chattanooga’s most dynamic and innovative cultural resources earning accolades for innovation and quality including:

- Six national awards from the Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS)
- Best practices awards from the Association of Children’s Museums
- Best Children’s Museum rankings from Child Magazine (13th in 2002) and Trekaroo (7th in 2015)
- Best of the Best Museum, Chattanooga (2019)
- Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration for its distance learning programs (2016 and 2019)
- First museum in Tennessee to join the Museum for All initiative, in which a significantly reduced-price admission is offered to families in the EBT program
- Certified as a KultureCity® Sensory Inclusive™ organization, meaning the Museum is accessible to children with special needs on a daily basis (2019)
- One of six museums and/or science centers selected by the Association of Science and Technology Center’s to join the Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI, 2019)

Community Impact

The Museum serves children in the surrounding community and in partnership with schools and other organizations.

Club Discovery

Club D is an inclusive after-school program for children ages 6 - 12 with and without special needs. A new session begins October 19!

Sensory Night

A free, low-sensory event on the first Thursday of every month for children and families with sensory sensitivities. Registration required.

2019 • Chattanooga Times Free PRess

2019 • Finalist

2018 • Trip Advisor

Meet the Team

Our team is dedicated to making the Museum a place for all to learn and create.

Office of the executive director
Randy Jestice
Business Administrator
(423) 648-6056
Sherri Hinton
Assistant to the President
(423) 648-6063
Henry Schulson, MBA
President and CEO
(423) 648-6065
Development Department
Chandler Custer
Guest Relations Assitant Manager
(423) 756-2738
April Burk
Guest Relations Manager
(423) 648-6048
Denise Karnes
Director of Development
(423) 648-6072
Curtis Jolley
Graphic Designer
(423) 648-6060
Kyrstin Hill
Director of Marketing & Communications
(423) 902-9277
Dorothy DePhillip
Development Administrative Assistant
(423) 756-2738
Ben Christie
Database Administrator
Katie Hanners
Vice President of Advancement
(423) 648-6043
Education Department
Kate Polickoski
Programs Assistant Manager
Jose Castillo
Museum Experience Assistant Manager
(423) 648-6090
Clayton Curole
Volunteer Assistant Manager
(423) 648-6046
Sheila Woody
Reservations Manager
(423) 648-6040
Amanda Ward
Director of Museum Experience and Volunteers
(423) 648-6062
Erin Townley
Early Childhood Specialist
(423) 648-6041
Alyson Thompson
Out of School Time and Inclusion Manager
(423) 648-6044
Suzanne Ness
Director of Programs
(423) 648-6061
Whittney Hendren
Outreach Manager
(423) 648-6082
Christie Haggard
Early Childhood Coordinator
(423) 648-6073
Karen Dewhirst
Science Specialist
(423) 648-6094
Liza Blair
Arts Specialist
(423) 648-6069
Amber Beam
Reservations Assistant Manager
(423) 648-6045
Jayne Griffin. Ed. D.
Vice President of Education
(423) 648-6064
Exhibit Development and Evaluation
Kenzie Freeman
Evaluation Manager
Madeline Kraha
Exhibits Project Manager
(423) 648-6075
Shannon Johnson
Vice President of Exhibit Development and Special Projects
(423) 648-6070
Exhibit, Maintenance, and Security
Duane Rousseau
Vice President of Exhibits and Building Operations
(423) 648-6081
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Meet the Board

The Museum board is committed to improving education for all children in the community.

Executive Committee
Patrick Stowe
Christie Burbank
Travis Hutchinson
Board of Trustees
Amanda Jackson
Betsy Cake
David Paschall
Dori Waller
Gabrielle Sanders
Jennifer Keates-Baleeiro
Knut Hilles
Lori Finlay
Niti Tejani
Taylor Vinson
Tiffanie Robinson
Trey White
Velvet Hernandez Johnson
Wayne Brown
Honorary Life Board Members
Jo Ann Yates
Joseph H. Davenport, III
Presh Pattee
Ex-Officio Board Members
Keith Sanford

Financial Transparency