Creative Discovery Museum Re-Ignites $10 Million Capital Campaign

Creative Discovery Museum Re-Ignites $10 Million Capital Campaign

Published On:
Kyrstin Hill

CHATTANOOGA, TENN (Sept. 17, 2020) -- Creative Discovery Museum (CDM) is officially re-igniting its $10 million capital campaign after temporarily suspending efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ignite Discovery: Creating the new CDM capital campaign will fund comprehensive renovations of CDM’s 43,000 square foot facility, providing opportunities for children and families to explore, innovate, create and play for generations to come. The initiative is centered on three goals: to ensure CDM remains a leader in experiential learning, a gathering place for all children and a gateway to a vibrant downtown Chattanooga.  

To date, nearly $7.1 million has been raised from a broad base of supporters including corporations, foundations and community leaders. CDM received several large contributions to the campaign during the suspension: $250,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, $250,000 from the Clarence E. Harris Foundation, $200,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, $100,000 from the City of Chattanooga, $60,000 from Southface Good Use, $50,000 from PlayCore and $50,000 from the George R. Johnson Family Foundation.

“Recent gifts and the steadfast support of our community throughout have been tremendous and very heartening. This shows that even in the face of uncertainty, we understand how critical an institution like Creative Discovery Museum is to the future of our city,” said Patrick Stowe, CDM’s board chair.

The pandemic and 14-week shut down had a significant impact on CDM’s finances. However, grant-based relief funding and strong financial footing created by reserves and endowment are helping to address these issues and enabling the campaign to move forward.  

“As we look to the future, we recognize that it is more important than ever to proceed with the comprehensive renovation project that is designed to position CDM for long term success,” said Henry Schulson, executive director. “To advance our vision and mission, we must invest in our building, exhibits and outreach programs so that the next generation has high quality, hands-on learning experiences in the arts and sciences that are imperative to the development of every child.”  

Ignite Discovery addresses community challenges that were identified in a 2018 Feasibility Study conducted by POWER 10, an Atlanta-based fundraising firm that previously assisted with the campaign. These challenges include strengthening early childhood education, providing new opportunities for  STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning, increasing access for all children regardless of background and helping revitalize the Riverfront District. In addition to facility renovations, this campaign addresses each of the needs by updating and installing new exhibits, expanding outreach programs and creating a new, vibrant urban space on the CDM Plaza.

Construction is set to begin August 2021 and be completed by May 2022, just in time to celebrate the Museums 27th birthday. Ignite Discovery: Creating the new CDM is chaired by Susu and Paul Brock and Leah and Jay Hill.  

Since opening its doors in 1995, CDM has welcomed over 5 million visitors. It has been nationally-ranked by Trekaroo and Child magazines. CDM received the CICL Pinnacle Award for its work in biofuels distance learning lessons. Locally, CDM was named Best Museum in the Times Free Press’s Best of the Best competition and is a two-time Nonprofit of the Year finalist. In addition, CDM was the first organization in Tennessee to participate in Museums for All, a national initiative that encourages cultural organizations to provide significantly reduced admissions to families that receive food assistance.

For more information about Ignite Discovery: Creating the New CDM, visit or contact Katie Hanners, CDM’s director of advancement, at (423) 648-6043.