Project Need

Why does the museum need to make these changes now?

For nearly 50 years, we have been a trusted resource for the community and families in the greater Wilmington area—and beyond. But the world around us is changing. Our community told us education, science and the environment are more important to them than ever before. They expect—and it’s critical to our mission—for us to be up-to-date, hands-on, action-oriented and relevant.

What led to the decision to enter into a “metamorphosis”?

Increase our Reach and Impact: Through extensive input from our community and stakeholders, and investigations of other institutions across the country, we determined now is the time to transform from a “community resource” to “community catalyst.” We developed a roadmap for reinvention and transformation to bring a more relevant experience to a broader range of visitors.

This transformation better reflects who we are as an organization and the role we play within the community and our visitors’ lives.

We have an exciting new vision of breaking down the barriers that limit typical natural history museums and placing our guests at the center of science and nature, through stimulation, education, engagement and learning.

Why do you need $9.8M to make updates? Can’t it be done less expensively?

The $9.8M goal emanates from our Exhibits Master Plan, developed with the expertise of Reich+Petch, a multi-disciplinary planning and design consultancy with 25+ years of experience. Reich+Petch recently conducted exhibit master plans for the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We also reviewed the offerings of and the investments in peer institutions across the United States to inform our strategic plan. We believe this is the appropriate level of investment to achieve the vision and full impact benefitting our visitors, community and other partners.

What will happen if you only raise a portion of the money?

In the unlikely event that this happens, we have several strategies to consider, including scaling back the project and phasing the implementation. In all cases, we will communicate transparently with our investors in advance of any changes.

Anticipated Impact

What is the anticipated impact of Metamorphosis?

Investing in the museum’s metamorphosis allows us to reach more people, from more diverse communities, with richer, more immersive experiences. It allows us create a community destination that investigates everything related to science and nature, and inspires our visitors for years to come.

With the completion of metamorphosis, we will increase onsite visitation 36% to more than 90,000 visitors per year, introducing science and nature to more people and creating a caring society that respects and values our planet. We will develop additional education programming for a wider range of students (K-12) and adults, including disadvantaged students. It will also increase our annual financial impact on the local economy.

How did you arrive at those estimates?

With guidance from Schultz & Williams, a national consulting firm based in Philadelphia, we developed a comprehensive strategic business plan that addresses regional data, financial modeling and projections, and national benchmarking. The business plan projects a post-Campaign annual visitation of more than 90,000 visitors.

Implementation & Timing

Will you shut down for the duration of construction? Or will you phase the work?

We anticipate complete closure for 12 months, starting in January 2021 and re-opening in May 2022. Through offering programs in the community and displaying exhibits through partner organizations, we will remain engaged with the community and continue to serve as a resource until our doors reopen.

How will construction affect members?

Membership to our museum also includes access, either free or for reduced general admission, to all other participating ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) museums, along with several local museums. These centers will continue to be available to our members throughout construction.

Will you offer member discounts or other concessions while under construction?

Yes, we are working with other local institutions to ask if they will be willing to offer admission for our members. We will also connect with local businesses and other non-profits for discounts for our members for their organizations.

When will you reopen with the Metamorphosis complete?

The target date for opening to the general public is May 2022.

Will you host a ribbon-cutting or public event?

We anticipate hosting multiple openings:

  • A soft opening for our key donors
  • An opening ceremony for our members
  • An official public opening

We also anticipate holding key milestone events along the way (hard hat tours, construction opening, etc.).

Will there be opportunities for partners to have early access to any of the new exhibits/museum?

Yes, early access and other benefits, such as event participation, will depend upon the level of financial commitment from the partner.

How will you communicate timing/construction updates to members? To visitors? To partners?

We will use a variety of channels to communicate with our members, visitors and partners throughout the construction process.


  • Beginning with the public phase of the fundraising campaign, we will provide communications to partners via emailed letters, meetings, a mailed newsletter and phone calls.


  • Members will continue to receive a mailed newsletter three to four times during the year, as well as email newsletters.


  • We will also communicate to visitors along with members and the community via social media as well as advertising and local media beginning during the public phase of the campaign through construction and re-opening.
  • A dedicated portion of our website will include updated information regarding construction timing.


Will all of your sponsorships offer category exclusivity?

Exclusivity will depend on the level of sponsorship.

What is the timing for when sponsorship benefits will take effect (e.g., when will signage be posted?)

Each package will be tailored for our partners to enjoy opportunities now, during closure, and after opening. Signage for exhibits will be displayed once we re-open, anticipated May 2022.