Creative Discovery Museum Launches National Competition for New Plaza Art Piece

Creative Discovery Museum Launches National Competition for New Plaza Art Piece

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Mackenzie Steele

CDM is launching a national competition to create an interactive art piece that will be the centerpiece of a redesigned entrance and plaza. In the first phase of the competition, CDM is seeking qualifications from artists and artist led teams to develop proposals to create a work that reflects the Museum’s playful spirit and welcomes visitors to the museum. Up to three teams will be selected and each awarded a $3,500 stipend to develop site-specific concept design proposals. The winning concept design will be used to fundraise for the public artwork and plaza redesign construction. Proposals are due April 12, 2021 by 1 p.m.

The art piece will create an impactful and iconic focal point within the Museum’s plaza that encourages “Instagram-able” and photographable moments. The piece will invite all children and adults to engage in play and interact with sound, light, scale or kinetics before entering the Museum’s front doors.

“Creative Discovery Museum is the gateway to downtown Chattanooga,” said Henry Schulson, CDM’s executive director. “The art piece along with the renovation of CDM’s plaza will make a lasting impression on visitors and provide a space for all members of our community to gather and interact.”

The redesigned Plaza will transform the 300 Chestnut Block into a vibrant, attractive civic space. The design will be representative of the Museum’s energetic and creative personality while complementing its neighbors –The Hilton Garden Inn and the AMC Majestic 12 theater. CDM will lead this project while collaborating with stakeholders and businesses along Chestnut Street. Funding for the planning phase is provided by the Lyndhurst Foundation.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for an artist to be part of shaping the public experience of the Creative Discovery Museum and downtown Chattanooga,” said Katelyn Kirnie, Public Art Consultant. “It is impressive that the Museum is making a substantial investment in an artwork that will give back to the community by creating a space of wonder and discovery for all outside its front door. Much like the Museum, the artwork is sure to inspire children of all ages to explore, innovate, create and play."

The 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, $8.82M of the $10M goal has been raised from a broad base of supporters including corporations, foundations and community leaders. Exhibit construction and renovation will begin August 2021.

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.

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