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Museum of Discovery enriches FoCo minds

The+Fort+Collins+Museum+of+Discovery+Jan.+31.+The+Museum+of+Discovery+hosts+rotating+scientific+exhibits.+
Collegian | Allie Seibel
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Jan. 31. The Museum of Discovery hosts rotating scientific exhibits.

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is an opportunity for everyone to experience interactive and immersive exploration while discovering the history of Northern Colorado with science and culture. A merge between the City of Fort Collins Museum and the nonprofit Discovery Science Center occurred in 2008, and the museum was established in 2012. It is now a center for interactive educational opportunities that fascinate visitors of all ages.

According to the museum’s website, its origins trace back to 1941 with the establishment of the City of Fort Collins Museum. There was a turning point in 1989 when the museum partnered with the nonprofit Discovery Science Center, marking the official beginning of the space we now recognize.

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The museum has a clear mission: create opportunities for learning, reflection and enjoyment through hands-on and collections-based explorations in science and culture. The vision is equally ambitious — to inspire curiosity in people.

“Our mission here is to introduce learning and growing in a very fun and hands-on way for children and adults of any age,” said Alex Pellegrino, an agent of discovery at the museum. “We’re very interactive and try to focus on all aspects of development with music, history and culture.”

Since its opening, the museum has welcomed over 1.25 million visitors from all 50 states, offering diverse long-term exhibits and hosting national touring special exhibitions from institutions such as National Geographic, the American Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian, according to the museum’s website.

The exhibits gallery features a range of long-term exhibits covering science, music, agriculture, astronomy, first peoples, wildlands and more. 

“We have our music and sound lab: a hands-on exhibit where people can come in and play drums, play the guitar and learn about different musical instruments,” said Leah Butler-Hoag, an agent of discovery at the museum. “We also have a hotspot for toddlers, wildland and wildlife exhibits and a digital dome a 360-degree 3D movie theater.”

“We have an exhibit for local flora and fauna for Northern Colorado, including live animals,” Pellegrino said. “We have exhibits of the history of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, which are cool to look at, to see how Fort Collins became Fort Collins.”

The Museum of Discovery actively engages with the local community through partnerships with public libraries, hosting events and collaborating with artists, astronomers and mental health awareness initiatives, Pellegrino said.

“We engage a lot with the public libraries around Northern Colorado and host events with them,” Pellegrino said. “We have artists and people come in, and we even had local astronomers showing people the sun for free. We have a lot of different experiences day to day where people of the community are welcome to come.”

Excitement is building for the upcoming Alebrijes exhibit, where artists Óscar Becerra Mora and Rubén Miguel from Mexico will collaborate with the Fort Collins community to create sculptures associated with Day of the Dead traditions. These sculptures, embodying alebrijes — animals leading spirits between the realms of the living and the dead — will find a home across Fort Collins.

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“Artists from Mexico are making their base here at the museum, creating sculptures with the help of our community and placing them all around Fort Collins,” Pellegrino said.

The museum’s impact is palpable in the heartfelt stories shared by visitors. Families returning every weekend, children eagerly anticipating their next visit and positive feedback on the engaging exhibits all contribute to the museum’s legacy.

“We once had a traveling exhibit of the pterosaurs, the flying reptiles, and that was a lot of fun,” Butler-Hoag said. “People still once in a while ask, ‘Do you still have those flying reptiles? Those pterosaurs?’ Unfortunately, it was just a traveling exhibit.”

“I’ve had a good amount of people when they’re headed out that are already excited to come back, especially kids,” Pellegrino said. “We just hear a lot of good positive feedback from how engaging the museum is for all ages. We have a lot of people coming back for that reason.”

As the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery continues to unfold the stories of Northern Colorado, it remains a reflection of the power of education, exploration and community engagement. Visitors are invited to experience the culture of Fort Collins and expand their minds while engaging with the world at the museum today.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect a clarification around the number of visitors that the Museum of Discovery receives. 

Reach Hania Nini at science@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Allie Seibel
Allie Seibel, Editor in Chief
Allie Seibel is the editor in chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, a role she loves more and more with each day. Previously the news editor and news director of The Collegian, Seibel has a background in news, but she’s excited to branch out and experience every facet of content this and following years. Seibel is a sophomore journalism and media communications major minoring in business administration and legal studies. She is a student in the Honors Program and is also an honors ambassador and honors peer mentor. She also is a satellite imagery writer for the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. Seibel is from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and loves how The Collegian has gotten her acquainted with Fort Collins and CSU. When she’s not writing, reporting or in class, you can always find her with a book, cross-stitching, planning where to travel to next, trying out a new recipe or listening to Taylor Swift. Seibel is incredibly proud of The Collegian’s past and understands the task of safeguarding its future. She’s committed to The Collegian’s brand as an alt-weekly newspaper and will continue to advance its status as a strong online publication while preserving the integrity and tradition of the print paper. Seibel is excited to begin a multi-year relationship with readers at the helm of the paper and cannot wait to see how the paper continues to grow. Through initiatives like the new science desk and letting each individual desk shine, Seibel is committed to furthering The Collegian and Rocky Mountain Student Media over the next few years.

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