History

The Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS) has a very rich history that is outlined in the section below: 

The 1990s

Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS), was the idea of Junior League of Springfield and parterned with Greene County Medical Society Alliance and incorporated in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

In 1992, DCS purchased three 1920’s era buildings in downtown Springfield. At that time, downtown was designated a blighted area. These buildings were purchased for three reasons:

  • The location is on two bus routes and accessible to all segments of society
  • Downtown is centrally located within the city and region and
  • The price was right.

Until 1996 the organization was run by the Board of Directors part time with occasional staff and hundreds of volunteers assisting with plans from 1992-1996.

  • Initial funds raised allowed us to renovate the first two buildings and combine them into one 25,000 sq. ft. science center and fill it with interactive exhibits, labs, and programs to spark the imagination of people of all ages.
  • School field trips from throughout the region attended and took advantage of our educational programs and exhibits.
  • Local and regional families signed up for our summer workshops, scout and home-school programs.
  • Tourists from throughout the country attended while passing through Springfield and many traveling exhibits brought new people downtown to the DCS.

There was now a reason for families to come downtown on a regular basis. After six years to create awareness and plan the operation, programs, exhibits, renovate, and raise the funds, the Discovery Center of Springfield opened to the public full time in 1998.

Over the last 16 years DCS had acquired over 200 exhibits and developed approximately 40 programs on various topics of science from geology to chemistry, physics to health and life sciences, culture to nanotechnology and much more that targeted people from birth to 90 years of age and older.

 

The 2000s

In 2000, DCS began working on a second master plan for the building and the incorporation of the third building. This would add an additional 30,000 square feet to our facility.

After a lot of research, in 2003 the DCS board and staff decided to deconstruct the third building and build a new addition under the guidelines of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

  • It would be the first in the region and a perfect fit for our premiere educational facility.
  • The goal was to create an exhibit out of the building itself and fill it with wonderful exhibits, labs, and classrooms.

Once the planning and development was completed, DCS broke ground Fall 2004 with a grand opening in September of 2006. DCS received a LEED Gold designation.

 

DCS Today

We continue to grow and constantly add innovative, educational, hands-on exhibits for our visitors and classes for groups of students. We offer 8 weeks of summer workshops for individual children, outreach programming, and distance learning through videoconferencing technology. In addition, we continue to offer our own educational events, host community projects, and offer birthday parties and rentals for various groups.

DCS currently houses 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space. Exhibits and programs currently in place interweave a broad array of:

  • Hard sciences
  • Technology
  • Math
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Culture
  • Art
  • Communications
  • Traveling exhibits

Discovery Center of Springfield is the only educational resource center of its kind serving the schools and families of this region. Similarly, DCS is the only youth activity center in Southern Missouri that offers and utilizes such a wide range of exhibits, hands-on activities, special events, and programs that explore a broad spectrum of educational goals.