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Discovery Station celebrates first anniversary with auction

September 07, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Friends of Discovery Station celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday night with an auction gala.

More than 100 people browsed the offerings of the silent auction, bought raffle tickets for wine baskets and explored the museum's rotating exhibits.

Discovery Station is a "learning museum," said B. Marie Byers, president of its board of directors.

Byers said she hoped the event would raise $20,000.

"That's probably optimistic. I'm an optimistic person," she said.

The nonprofit organization has no "financial stream" and Wednesday evening's gala was its first fundraiser, she said. "We need to be more financially healthy."

Discovery Station has about $120,000 a year in operating costs, which does not include the cost of leasing and maintaining exhibits, she said.

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One of the museum's more comprehensive exhibits, the women's health exhibit on loan from the Centers for Disease Control's office of women's health, cost $25,000 to lease for three months. Discovery Station paid an additional $15,000 in maintenance and shipping costs, Byers said.

Byers said she is most excited about the museum's new NASA exhibit.

Visitors can see a quarter-size scale model of the NEAR spacecraft and examine the materials used by space engineers when they design spacecraft.

"Hagerstown has nothing like this right now. I like to bring this here for the schoolchildren and public to see," said Neal Bachtell, who works in the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab.

Darlene Suffecool has volunteered at Discovery Station since it opened.

"I believe in turning these buildings into something worthwhile," she said.

As a retired educator, Suffecool said she wanted to give students an opportunity to see interesting exhibits without having to travel to museums in Baltimore or out of state.

"One woman said we have more things her children were interested in than museums in Baltimore," said Jane Bowen, another volunteer who works in Discovery Station's gift shop.

When Discovery Station opened in May 2005, 135 people visited during the first month. One year later, 1,015 people visited in May 2006.

School classes visit from Washington and Frederick counties and Chambersburg, Pa., Byers said. On Saturdays, scientists and doctors visit to give interactive lectures.

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