CommunityWorks, Inc. a 501(c)(3) Montana corporation founded in 2000, is the organization that developed the ExplorationWorks museum. ExplorationWorks is an Assumed Business Name (ABN) of CommunityWorks, Inc. CommunityWorks, Inc. was founded to create a community informal learning center and gathering place. Founders sought to develop a facility that could provide innovative, hands—on educational opportunities, working in partnership with public schools and that could be available for students of all ages and from varied backgrounds. Many models were explored: children’s museums, community centers, and science centers. Through early years of learning and exploration, the science center model was determined to best fit the mission and target audience of CommunityWorks' programs and goals. The science center model provided a marketable package for the goals and mission of the organization, and many models around the world as well as a national association to provide resources. CommunityWorks, Inc./ExplorationWorks has been a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) since 2002, and staff, board members and volunteers have attended annual ASTC conferences and other trainings since that time.
CommunityWorks Mission Statement
CommunityWorks builds community, seeking new solutions to old problems and collaborating for strength. CommunityWorks fosters a healthy, peaceful, vibrant community grounded in educational excellence, authenticity and richness of relationships, respect and celebration of diversity.
The development of the ExplorationWorks museum was a volunteer-driven, collaborative and very grassroots effort. Between 2000 and 2007 when the ExplorationWorks museum opened to the public, board members, a very small staff, and hundreds of volunteers worked together to develop plans for and build the new museum. An innovative, hands-on museum of science and culture, located in the new Great Northern Town Center development in downtown Helena, Montana, ExplorationWorks offers programs and exhibits that appeal to diverse audiences in an engaging discovery of the sciences, technology, social sciences, culture and everyday life.
ExplorationWorks Mission Statement
ExplorationWorks, a museum of science and culture, invites all people to active experiences that inspire inquiry, increase understanding and stimulate the desire for lifelong learning.
Around the world, interactive museums, science centers and children's museums provide exciting approaches to education. At the new ExplorationWorks interactive musem, exhibits, programs, workshops, classes, and camps are available for kids, youths, families, seniors/elders, as well as school and community groups. ExplorationWorks helps meet community needs as an important partner with formal education, as a setting for informal learning, a place where families learn together, and as a catalyst and venue for community involvement in education for people from all ages, interests, and walks of life. Through early CommunityWorks “Museum Without Walls” programming and community-based center planning, strong partnerships developed with the City of Helena, Carroll College, Helena Public Schools, and others local and statewide organizations. Through collaborations with organizations that reach and serve at-risk and low-income populations our goal is to provide a center that is accessible, welcoming and inclusive of all people from varying social and economic backgrounds and experiences. Scholarship entry fees, memberships and program tuitions are always available.
ExplorationWorks Guiding Principles
- We will provide a welcoming environment and actively reach out to all.
- ExplorationWorks’ programs will complement and support educational programs and K-12 curriculum standards, developing meaningful collaborations with formal education, as well as other local and regional organizations.
- We will provide creative, engaging exhibits and programs that are responsive to a variety of learning styles, enhancing multiple intelligences and inspiring creative problem solving.
- Cultural exhibits and programs will involve, whenever possible, members of the cultures represented, and will be respectful of the cultures, peoples, and traditions they represent.
- Exhibits and programs related to scientific concepts will be rooted in the scientific method authenticated through peer review.
- Programs and exhibits will utilize interactive, inquiry-based approaches to learning, emphasizing context and interconnectedness, discrepant events and serendipities. ExplorationWorks will exemplify best practices in education for visitors of all ages and abilities.
- We will offer a safe and stimulating early childhood exhibit area.
- Youth programs will support learning that goes beyond traditional subject areas, involving youth and young adults in educational enrichment, employment, and mentoring programs.
- Sustainable existence will be a recurring theme in ExplorationWorks programs and exhibits. Sustainable design and technologies will be incorporated in constructing and maintaining the facility, promoting environmental awareness and education.
- ExplorationWorks will make national exhibits locally relevant through programming and complementary exhibits, promoting the uniqueness of our region and its history, providing opportunities to explore our past, present, and future.
CommunityWorks, Inc. began offering “Museum Without Walls” programming in 2000. Interactive, hands-on community education enrichment programs, involving kids, families and seniors, provide opportunities for experimentation and experiential investigation of subject areas, while also building community, and promoting appreciation of the differences among us. Supported by generous volunteer hours, contributions from local businesses, and funding from tuition fees, grants, and donations, exciting, successful projects and programs develope. More
How was the construction of the facility funded?
Phase 1 of the ExplorationWorks museum opened to the public on November 1, 2007. Initially, something less than 2/3 of the building was complete with interior fit out, equipment and exhibits. In the fall of 2008, fit out of the final 1/3 of the building (the basement and additional permanent exhibits collections) will commence.
|Sources of Support for Phase 1||Amount|
Land donated by the Nicholson family
TIF Grant - Public
HUD Economic Development Initiative - Public
Individual small donations ($25-$125 donations)
Individual, other, unrestricted
Corporate, cash gifts
Private Foundation Grants
Phase 1 total income to date
ExplorationWorks´ annual operating budget is supported by 50% earned revenues, with the goal in year 2 of operation to increase that number to 70%. Based early operational experience, plans, and on extensive research conducted in our feasibility study phase, we anticipate that earning 70% of the operating expenses can be realized. Earned revenues come from memberships, admissions, gift shop sales, birthday parties, facility rentals and paid programs. The remaining 30% will be generated in the form of grants and donations.
In this opening year, while we develop the business of ExplorationWorks from the initial 50% to 70% earned revenues, and simultaneously fitout the basement space in the museum, and conduct early marketing and outreach efforts, the continued generosity of individuals, business and foundations in Montana is crucial.