25 Years of BADM

In 2016, the Bay Area Discovery Museum celebrates in 25th anniversary. And what a 25 years it has been! In celebration of 25 years of BADM, a new 25th anniversary exhibition is now open in the hallways of the Art Studios, featuring a timeline of prominent dates, as well as the evolution of the Museum's four logos. Here are the highlights of our 25 years.

1991: Bay Area Discovery Museum Opens at Fort Baker

In 1984, a group of four parents gathered to create a premier cultural institution focused on the vitally important early years of a child’s life. Before the current Fort Baker site became a possibility in 1991, the Bay Area Discovery Museum opened a pilot site in Corte Madera in April of 1987. Although only a small storefront space, its popularity convinced the Museum’s Board that there was a need for a major children’s museum in the Bay Area. Broad community support fueled the 1991 award-winning conversion of a series of abandoned Army buildings in historic Fort Baker into a one-of-a-kind indoor and outdoor facility under the Golden Gate Bridge. With an emphasis on learning through play, the Museum works to ignite and advance creative thinking for all children.

1992: Museum Receives National Historic Preservation Award

37 experts from across the country participated in an exhibition-planning seminar for the pilot Bay Area Discovery Museum’s new site at Fort Baker within a series of renovated army buildings on the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In addition to renovating eight historic buildings—originally built by the U.S. Army between 1903 and 1905—the Museum constructed two new buildings, Discovery Hall and the Entry Pavilion. The facilities renovated by the Museum include the post office, stables, coal shed, bakery and quartermaster and ordnance warehouse.

On March 26, 1992, the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation selected the Museum for a National Historic Preservation Award. As the letter states, “This program, administered by the Advisory Council under the auspices of the White House, represents the Nation’s highest honor for federally supported preservation efforts.” Fellow award recipients include the Statue of Liberty, the Ellis Island Museum and the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone. The Museum is one of the only children’s museums in the country located within a national park.

1998: Bonnie Boat Installed in Lookout Cove

Prior to its new home at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the fishing boat sat sinking in a marina in Tiburon, CA. In 1998, the vessel was pulled by a small tugboat to Horseshoe Cove, lifted by a crane onto a large truck, driven to the Museum, installed in Lookout Cove and repaired. Named after the Museum’s Executive Director at the time, the Bonnie Boat is one of the most loved and iconic exhibitions at the Museum.

2004: Lookout Cove Exhibition Opens

On July 17, 2004 the Bay Area Discovery Museum opened the new exhibition Lookout Cove. The 2.5-acre outdoor, interactive exploration area features natural, cultural and built icons of the Bay Area, as well as five site-specific commissioned art installations. The space was designed to stimulate the curiosity and imagination of children through the lens of a pirate adventure with trails, shipwrecks and sea caves. Exhibits include the Bonnie Boat, sea cave, nature trail, Outdoor Learning Lab, oversized animal habitats, miniture section of the Golden Gate Bridge, “After the Landslide” construction area, sunken pirate ship, Peekaboo Palace and more.

2007: Museum Welcomes the Three Millionth Visitor

In 2007, the Bay Area Discovery Museum welcomed its three millionth visitor.

2008: Connections Community Outreach Program is Established

Through the Connections program, established in 2008, the Bay area Discovery Museum partners with 43 local subsidized preschools to bring thousands of children, their educators and families to the Museum for multiple visits and deep engagement each year. Schools in the Connections program serve a high proportion of lunderserved communities. Each participating school has committed to work with the Museum for multiple years in order to create meaningful relationships between the children, teachers, families and the Museum.

2011: Center for Childhood Creativity is Established

Launched in 2011 as the research and advisory division of the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the Center for Childhood Creativity (CCC) works at a national scale to advocate for the critical importance of creativity development in childhood and to inspire the next generation of innovators, thought leaders and problem-solvers. The CCC is committed to advancing the research that informs our understanding of childhood creativity and its cultivation. High-quality, empirical research provides the foundation for all of the CCC’s work, including advising to schools, museums and other non-profits, as well as companies that directly influence children’s development.

2012: Only Museum-based Preschool in California Opens at the Museum

In 2012, The Discovery School at the Bay Area Discovery Museum opens and remains the only museum-based preschool in California. (You may know the school by its original name, Not-A-School.) The school draws upon the Museum’s 25 years of child-directed, open-ended, inquiry-driven learning, as well as best practices in creativity development from the Museum’s research division, the Center for Childhood Creativity. The Discovery School is a Reggio-inspired, research-based preschool program that offers children the freedom to pursue their passions and ideas through play and guided inquiry.

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