Upcoming Workshops

Thinking Outside the Museum: Creating Outdoor Spaces and Experiences for All Visitors Workshop

At the All-New Discovery Museum
177 Main Street
Acton, MA 01720

June 25-26, 2018

Registration         Hotel         Brochure  

In 2016, Discovery Museum opened Discovery Woods, an accessible outdoor nature playscape and 550 square-foot treehouse, enticing families to the outdoors and enabling children of all abilities to play together. Learn how to design and program year-round, all-weather outdoor spaces at your museum.


Sunday, June 24

Arrival and hotel check-in.

Optional, self-guided visit to the Discovery Museum (open 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.). Show your workshop registration confirmation for free admission.

Monday, June 25

Breakfast at the hotel

Transportation to Discovery Museum

9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
Welcome and Introductions
Victoria Garvin, ACM
Neil Gordon, The Discovery Museum (TDM)

9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Exploration of Outdoor Spaces
On guided tours, participants will explore outdoor spaces through an observational framework based on the benefits of outdoor play, focusing on how features provide outdoor play benefits and accessibility.   

10:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m.
Prep for Share Out

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Share Out
Participants will share their observations and discuss opportunities the outdoor features provide, and how those differ across different user groups.

12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Lunch and Networking

1:00 p.m.–2:30 p.m.
A Conversation about Design, Decision, and Process
Denise LeBlanc, TDM
Focus: What to consider when designing for an outdoor space. The conversation will cover Discovery Museum surveys, focus groups, pilot program, design procedure, and lessons learned.

2:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.
A Conversation about Accessibility
Alli Leake, TDM
Jennifer Brooke, Lemon|Brooke Landscape Architecture
Focus: How to convene and work with expert user groups to identify key needs for accessibility. The conversation will cover the benefits of outdoor play for individuals with ASD, ADD, and ADHD; working with the geography of your space; and outdoor feature accessibility. 

4:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Revisit the Outdoor Space
Participants will revisit the outdoor spaces to reflect on the afternoon's conversations.

4:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Day One Wrap Up
To cap off the day, participants will be asked to share take-aways and any questions.

Return to the Hotel
Transportation provided.

6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Optional No Host Dinner (attendees pay for their own orders)

Tuesday, June 26

Breakfast at the hotel

Transportation to Discovery Museum

9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
A Conversation about Weather
Rachel Danford, TDM
Focus: The opportunities and issues of variable weather in outdoor exhibits and programming. The conversation will cover current research on nature preferences and ecophobia; how to message about incleument weather; and more. 

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
What's the Weather Exploration
Participants can engage with some of the most popular weather-based programs.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

12:30 p.m.–1:00 p.m.
Closing and Final Thoughts

What You Will Learn 

  • Current research on the benefits of outdoor play:
    • Independence and self-confidence
    • Quiet observation
    • Problem solving and team work
    • Sensory integration
  • How to work with user groups in order to design for the broadest group of visitors.
  • How to message and program for inclement weather, year-round.

Who Should Attend

  • Designers, administrators, and educators
  • Museums considering outdoor exhibits or expansion
  • Emerging museums
  • All those who want to be empowered to take on outdoor play and learning spaces with confidence

Registration deadline: Friday, June 8, 2018. Register today!