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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Collection Summary

Administrative History

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

History, Mission, and Vision, 1991-1992

Board of Directors Records, 1986-1992

Financial Records, 1982-1994, undated

Museum Operations, 1989-1992

Programming, Exhibits and Curricula, 1984-1994

Publicity and Clippings, 1984-1992

Real Estate Records, 1988-1992

Research Files, 1989-1994

Austin History Center

Discovery Hall Science Center Records

An Inventory of the Collection



Collection Summary

Creator: Discovery Hall Science Center
Title: Discovery Hall Science Center Records
Dates: 1982-1994
Abstract: The Discovery Hall Science Center was a science and technology education organization that operated between 1984 and 1994 in Austin, Texas. The Center shared its vision through its hands-on science center and a variety of educational programs including summer camps and after-school programs. The collection contains photographic materials, meeting minutes, financial records, and program curricula documenting various aspect of the Center’s activities.
Accession number: AR.2018.002
Quantity: 4.6 linear feet (12 boxes)
Location: Archives stacks, Outer vault
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

Discovery Hall was an experiential science learning program for children which operated in Austin, TX from 1984 to 1993. The program was founded by a group of volunteers with a vision to create a “hands-on center for students of all ages to experience science,” similar to San Francisco’s Exploratorium. Founding members of Discovery Hall included Bob Crampton, a Lockheed Corporation engineer, and Jack Turner and Karl Trappe, physics professors at the University of Texas in Austin with an interest in teacher education. While Discovery Hall’s architects chiefly described their program as a ‘science museum,” the organization actually administered a variety of independent educational programs including the museum, summer camps, after school science clubs, Texas Science and Technology Week and the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair. The unifying factor in all of Discovery Hall’s programs was to foster a love of science and technology in the children of Austin through hands-on experimentation.

Discovery Hall held its first camp program in the summer of 1984 and its first after-school club that September. In October 1984, the center was offered space in a multipurpose “Arts Warehouse" at 4th and San Antonio Streets in downtown Austin. In its first few years, Discovery Hall was run entirely by a group of volunteers chaired by Keith Zimmerman; the program’s only paid employee between 1984 and 1986 was Mike Wren, a repairman who also constructed exhibits for the museum space. A fundraiser, Suzan Krasoff, was hired in 1987.

In the summer of 1988, the landlord of the Arts Warehouse declared bankruptcy and Discovery Hall was forced to close its exhibit space and operate its other programs out of donated private school spaces for six months. The museum was reopened in December 1988 at 401 Congress Avenue, a former Greyhound bus station at a rental rate of “$1 per month.”

The period between 1988 and 1991 saw Discovery Hall continue to develop new educational programs while attempting to transition its administrative structure into that of a “mature organization.” In 1989, the program applied for tax-exempt status and appointed its first five-person board, chaired by interim director Jack Turner. Joyce Statz, a project manager at Texas Instruments, joined the board in 1990. Discovery Hall applied for grants, including from Georgetown’s Lola Wright Foundation, organized several popular festivals, including “Robofest” showcasing the work of Austin-area nonprofit robot designers The Robot Group, and hosted traveling exhibits. By 1991, Discovery Hall employed 10 staff members, including exhibits manager Pablo Garcia and camp directors Roger Stryker and Collins van Nort.

Many of the new events and programs established at this time emanated from relationships between Discovery Hall and the greater Austin community: a partnership with the Austin-Area Junior League in 1988 led to the purchase of a “portable planetaria”, while IBM sponsored an electronic “interactive Christmas tree.” Discovery Hall’s organizers saw themselves as participating in Austin’s burgeoning hi-tech economy. As IBM manager William Mitchell wrote in the company newsletter in September 1987, “the scientists and inventors of tomorrow - the IBMers of tomorrow - are the kids at Discovery Hall today.”

In July 1991, Discovery Hall was forced to vacate 401 Congress. The board and newly appointed director Keren Cummings began a difficult search for a new museum space. The economic downturn of the 1980s which had deflated Austin property prices was beginning to lift, and the revitalization of downtown made the rent-free or discounted spaces Discovery Hall had depended upon scarce. A financial audit commissioned by the board in 1991 raised further questions about Discovery Hall’s ability to remain self-sustaining in the long term. After a failed attempt to purchase a building located at 700 Congress Avenue, the board contracted with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct a Feasibility Study, which was completed in December 1991. Based on interviews with prominent community members, the study’s final “Woodburn Report,” found that the Austin community was uncertain of Discovery Hall’s Mission and confused by similarities between Discovery Hall and the Austin Children’s Museum. It concluded that “Austin area community and businesses could not provide the support” that Discovery Hall’s board members envisioned.

In response to the study, the center narrowed its focus to running outreach programs and finding stewards for its remaining programs and equipment. The last paid staff member left the program in July 1992. In 1993, Discovery Hall ran its final Texas State Science and Engineering Fair and held a fundraiser to cover outlying operations costs before disbanding and ceasing all operations. For the final fundraiser, Board member Joyce Statz wrote a ‘postmortem history’ of Discovery Hall, which has formed the backbone of this Administrative History.

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Scope and Contents

The Discovery Hall Science Center Records document the the development, and ultimate demise, of a science center for children in the 1980s and early 1990s in Austin, Texas. Included in the collection are Board of Directors administrative files, financial records, real estate documents, research files, operational records, education and programing curricula, newspaper clippings, and photographs dated from 1982 through 1994 that highlight the educational activities provided by the Center and provide insight into the efforts of the Board of Directors to create a financially sustainable structure for the museum.

The History, Mission, and Vision series (1989-1992) contains documents pertaining to the development of the city of Austin and Discovery Hall’s place in that community. Included are the “Postmortem History” written by Ms. Statz in 1994; papers generated by the Discovery Hall board while framing a long-range plan, including the organization’s only annual report, published in 1991; official correspondence and planning memos regarding the proposed development of the Seaholm area of downtown Austin into a cultural district, including a copy of a letter from writer James Michener; and the 1992 “Woodburn Report” which includes interviews conducted with public figures in Austin, a list detailing those figures and their importance to the community, and the final published study.

The Board of Directors series (1986-1992) represents the contents of several three ring binders curated by board member Joyce Statz during her tenure on the board between 1990 and 1994. Materials from before Statz’s tenure include board minutes and lists of members from 1984 to 1989. The “Joyce Statz Board Notes” folders contain of minutes, informal memos, handouts from presentations, and correspondence relating to fundraising efforts and produced between the years of 1990 and 1992; these records have been kept as accumulated by Statz to provide a picture of the day-to-day workings of the board during this period of transition. Also included is a “Board Training Book” that was designed in 1991 to be shared with new board members.

The Financial Records series (1982-1994) provides documentation of the day-to-day financial health of the organization, as well as the board members’ efforts to raise money through grant writing and fundraising. It contains annual budgets and balance sheets, letters documenting Discovery Hall’s tax-exempt status, contracts with multiple insurance companies for staff benefits, documentation of an organization-wide audit conducted in 1991, and an application for a loan from 1992. Also included are grant applications, donation receipts and letters of acknowledgement for donations and services rendered, membership lists used in annual phone-a-thon fundraisers, fundraising and grant-writing training materials, and a set of handwritten signs used during the Center’s “High Tech Junk Sale” in 1993.

The Museum Operation series (1989-1992) highlights the daily operation of the Discovery Hall. Materials consist of master copies of the various forms used by the organization, membership and admissions statistics and reports, staff meeting agendas, membership brochures, volunteer program information and a few Poloroid-style photos of staff and offices. The Progamming, Exhibits and Curricula series (1984-1994) documents the day-to-day activities of Discovery Hall’s multiple educational programs, including summer camps, after school clubs, exhibits and community events. Materials include in-house exhibit building guidelines, monthly programing guides, posters and other ephemera advertising events, color photographs of Discovery Hall exhibits and photocopies of published science experiments to be performed by children.

The Publicity series (1984-1992) consists of published articles collected by the Discovery Hall board, about the Discovery Hall program, science education, and science events in Texas. Also include are articles curated for inclusion in a media kit.

The Real Estate series consists chiefly of leases and correspondence regarding Discovery Hall’s tenure in three buildings in downtown Austin between 1988 and 1992: 401 Congress, 700 Congress, and an office in the Norwood building at 114 W. 7th Street. It also contains an application to move an outdoor sign, drawings and plans for the 700 Congress space (some of which are printed on velox sheets designed for use with an overhead projector) and planning and publicity materials for two “Grand Opening” parties.

And lastly, the Research Files series (1989-1994) consists of materials collected by the Board about other science and technology education programs. It includes printed publications, an informational booklet from the Spitz Planetarium company, a set of color slides picturing the exhibits and buildings of other members of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Chamber of Commerce publications and a book of statistics published by the Capital-area United Way in 1989, and reports about the science-content requirements in Texas textbooks.

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Arrangement

Arranged into 8 series:


  • History, Mission and Vision
  • Board of Directors Records
  • Financial Records
  • Museum Operations
  • Programming, Exhibits and Curricula
  • Publicity
  • Real Estate Records
  • Research Files

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open to all users

Use Restrictions

The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Turner, Jack.
Trappe, Carl.
Statz, Joyce.
Subjects (Organizations)
Discovery Hall (Austin, Tex.).
Lola Wright Foundation.
Institute of Museum Services.
Still Water Foundation.
Austin (Tex.). Cultural Arts Division.
The Robot Group.
Texas Instruments Incorporated.
International Business Machines Corporation.
Subjects
Museums--Texas--Austin.
Nonprofit organizations--Texas--Austin.
Community organizations--Texas--Austin.
Education--Texas--Austin.
Science museums--Texas--Austin.
Places
Austin (Tex.)--Social life and customs.
Congress 700 (Austin, Tex.).
Congress 701 (Austin, Tex.).
San Antonio 300(Austin, Tex.).
Document Types
Administrative records.
Agendas.
Black-and-white photographs.
Brochures.
Color slides.
Color negatives.
Color photographs.
Clippings.
Correspondence.
Financial records.
Reports.

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Related Material

Periodicals


  • Discoveries: News from Discovery Hall
  • What's Happening at Discovery Hall: News for Members and Prospective Members

Austin Files


  • AF Subject - Museums - Discovery Hall M9115 (1)

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Separated Material

Periodicals-Discoveries: News from Discovery Hall (various issues-undated)

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated by a member of the Board of Directors.

Preferred Citation

Discovery Hall Science Center Records (AR.2018.002). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2018/002

Donation Date: 2018

Processing Information

Two floppy disks labeled ‘Board Manual’ were removed from the collection after attempts to access the content were unsuccessful. Duplicate document (curricula, grant applications, IRS forms) were deaccessioned. All copies of personal checks and the resumes of applicants for jobs as Discovery Hall tour guides were removed to protect private personal information.

Final Processing and Finding Aid By/Date: Abigail Norris, Elizabeth Buchanan and Katherine Tuggey September-December 2018.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

History, Mission, and Vision, 1991-1992

Box Folder
7 2 Discovery Hall history, 1994
3 Discovery Hall Annual Report, 1991
4 Discovery Hall long range plan, 1991
5 Woodburn feasibility study, 1992

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Board of Directors Records, 1986-1992

Box Folder
1 1 Board Briefing Book (1 of 2), 1992 May
2 Board Briefing Book (2 of 2), 1992 May
3 Board membership lists, undated
4 Board minutes, 1986-1989
5 Discovery Hall Board Binder, 1991
6 Joyce Statz Board Notes, 1990-1991
7 Joyce Statz Board Notes, 1991
Box Folder
2 1 Joyce Statz Board Notes (1 of 2), 1992
2 Joyce Statz Board Notes (2 of 2), 1992
3 Personnel Manual, 1990 September 1

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Financial Records, 1982-1994, undated

Budget, Expenditures and Taxes, 1984-1994
Box Folder
2 4 Audit, 1991
5-6 Balance sheets, 1988-1992
7 Budget and balance sheets, 1984-1988
Box Folder
6 7 City of Austin water utility bill, 1990
Box Folder
2 9 Discovery Hall organization assets, 1991
10 Loan information, 1992
Box Folder
3 1 Nonprofit and tax-exempt documentation, 1984-1992
2 Staff benefits, 1988-1992
3 Tax returns, 1985-1992
Fundraising, 1987-1994
Box Folder
2 8 City solicitation permit, 1993-1994
Box Folder
5 4 Capital campaign, 1992
5 Contract with Center for Nonprofit Management, 1991-1992
6 Corporate donations, 1990
7 Corporate donations, 1991-1992
8 Discovery Hall Exit Party, 1993
9 Donations, 1992
10 Executive Director Fund, 1991
11 High Tech Junk Sale, 1991
12 High Tech Junk Sale and Auction, 1992
13 High Tech Junk Sale, 1993
14 Individual donations, 1991-1992
15 In-kind donations, 1987-1991
16 In-kind donations, 1991-1992
17 Operations campaign, 1991-1992
18 Phone-a-thons/Membership drive, 1987-1990
Box Folder
6 1-3 Phone-a-thon membership lists, 1987-1992
4 Raffle, 1992 March
Grants, 1982-1993
Box Folder
3 4 Grants and fundraising training materials, undated
5 Grants, general, 1988-1992
6 3M grant application, 1990
7 American Association of Museums Museum Assessment Program, 1987-1989
8 Apple grant, 1989
9-12 City of Austin Arts Commission, 1988-1993
Box Folder
4 1 City of Austin Cultural Contracts grant, 1990-1992
2 City of Austin Parks and Recreation, 1989-1990
3 Hughes Foundation, Austin Science Consortium, 1991
4 IBM Dependent Care Initiative, 1990
5 Institute of Museum Services General Operations grant, 1988-1990
6 Institute of Museum Services General Operations grant, 1991-1992
7 Junior League portable planetarium, 1988-1990
8 Lola Wright Foundation, 1988-1990
9 Lola Wright Foundation, 1991
Box Folder
5 1 National Science Foundation/North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, 1988 December 12
2 Stillwater Foundation, 1982 February-1991 November
3 Texas Commission on the Arts, 1991-1992

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Museum Operations, 1989-1992

Box Folder
8 4 Blank forms, undated
5 Discovery Hall guest statistics, 1989-1992
7 Discovery Hall program statistics, 1988-1989
8 Discovery Hall staff meeting agendas, 1990-1992
9 Museum membership brochures, undated
10 Program summary, undated
11 Volunteer information, 1988-1992
12 Staff and office photographs, circa 1980s
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Neg. Drawer Staff and office slides, circa 1980s-1990s

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Programming, Exhibits and Curricula, 1984-1994

Educational Committee Records, 1992
Box Folder
8 3 Educational Committee records, 1992
After-School Clubs, 1991-1992
Box Folder
10 6 After-school club curricula, undated
7 After-school club flyers, undated
8 After-school club statistics, 1991-1992
9 Spring break curricula, undated
Assorted Programming and Curricula, 1986-1994, undated
Box Folder
8 6 Discovery Hall program guides, 1986-1991
Box Folder
11 7 General science curricula and lesson plans, undated
Box Folder
12 1 Educational photographs, 1992-1994
Box Folder
8 13 Programming photographs, circa 1980s-1990s
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Neg. Drawer Programming negatives and slides, circa 1980s-1990s
Box Folder
12 3 “A Tour of the Solar System”, 1992-1994
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Neg. Drawer "A Tour of the Solar System" slides, undated
Exhibits, 1987-1994
Box Folder
9 1 Exhibit building guidelines, undated
2 Exhibit Committee documents, 1990-1992
3 Exhibits Committee records, 1992
4 Exhibits design, undated
5 Donivan Porterfield/Radian – Electrolysis exhibit, 1990
6 Doug Downey/Semateck – Chip exhibit, undated
7 Grubbs – Starlab, 1993-1994
8 IBM – Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit, 1990-1991
9 NASA Space Shuttle Tile exhibit, 1989
10 Sonic Silhouette, undated
11 Supercollider exhibit, 1987-1989
12 Terra Firma satellite imagery exhibit, 1991
Special Events, 1985-1993
Box Folder
10 10 Austin-area Children's Science Fair, 1991-1992
11 Texas Instruments Christmas tree, undated
12 Discovery Dungeon, undated
13 Discovery Hall events calendars, 1990-1991
14 Paramount theater screening, NASA "For all Mankind", 1990 July
15 Robot Group records, 1990
Box Folder
12 2 Special events planning, 1985-1991
Box Folder
11 1 Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering, 1991
2 Texas Science and Technology Week, 1987
3 Texas Science and Technology Week, 1988
4 Texas State Science Fair, 1992
5 Texas State Science Fair, 1993
6 Westgate Mall exhibit, 1991-1992
Summer Camps, 1984-1992
Box Folder
12 4 Summer camp, 1984-1986
5 Summer camp, 1987
6 Summer camp, 1988
Box Folder
10 1 Summer camp, 1989
2 Summer camp, 1990
3 Summer camp, 1991
4 Summer camp, 1992
5 Camp curricula, undated

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Publicity and Clippings, 1984-1992

Box Folder
11 10 Articles for media kit, 1989-1991
11 Newspaper clippings, 1984-1992
12 Clippings, 1984-1992

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Real Estate Records, 1988-1992

Box Folder
6 5 401 Congress grand opening, 1988 December
6 401 Congress, 1988 December-1991 July
8 National Register District sign application, 1991
9 700 Congress, 1991
10 Drawings and plans, 700 Congress, undated
11 Lease and contracts, 700 Congress, 1990-1992
12 700 Congress grand opening, 1991
13 Norwood Building, 1991 August 8-1992 July 21

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Research Files, 1989-1994

Box Folder
7 6 American science center research, undated
7 Association of Science and Technology Centers, 1992-1994
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Color Neg. Drawer American science center slides, undated
Box Folder
7 1 Austin long range vision, 1989
8 Spitz Incorporated Planetarium guide, 1991
Box Folder
8 1 Texas science education programs and partnerships, 1991
2 New American Schools Development Assocation proposal, 1992 February 14

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