Military History and Armed Forces Symposium Held at Discovery Park

Military History and Armed Forces Symposium Held at Discovery Park

More than 5,000 guests visited Discovery Park during the three-day Military History and Armed Forces Symposium that was held April 23-25, 2021. The event featured a variety of programs and interactive activities that explored the past, present and future of the American military. It was considered such a success that the dates of April 22 – April 24, 2022 have been selected for next year’s event.

Attendees experienced a number of special guests who participated in panel discussions and presentations on topics like women and minorities in the military, national security, and closer looks at the wars of the past including the Civil War and the Vietnam War.

Reenactors and authors of military-related books were on hand to share stories from the history of the military and Discovery Park educators led gallery talks that provided more details on several different areas of the park’s military gallery. A pop-up exhibit of portraits by early photographer Matthew Brady was unveiled and members enjoyed a free reception with entertainment by Operation Song.

For those who could not attend, below are links to some of what you missed. Be sure to save the date for the 2022 Military History and Armed Forces Symposium.

Sponsored by Union City Coca-Cola and Dixie Gun Works.



Photo Galleries from Day One

Photo Galleries from Day Two

Photo Galleries from Day Three

“Reelfoot Forward: A West Tennessee Podcast”

This special episode of “Reelfoot Forward: A West Tennessee Podcast” with Dr. Timothy Smith was recorded during the event. Dr. Smith was one of the featured historians on “Grant,” a three-night mini-series from The History Channel. The audience learned more about the life and career of Ulysses S. Grant and the Civil War and discovered how history-related documentaries are made. Dr. Smith also shared suggestions on getting your children interested in the past and the best historic Tennessee destinations. He is the author of more than 20 books on topics ranging from Shiloh to Champion Hill to Vicksburg to Grant.

Listen to the podcast here.

Watch the live recording here.

Learn more:

Check out his books here.

National Security and Climate Change

Lt. Gen. Castellaw is a 36-year veteran of the Marine Corps, where he held several commands, including chief of staff for the United States Central Command during the Iraq War. Since retirement, Castellaw has served as an advising expert in matters of national security, with emphasis on climate change. He  lives in Alamo, Tenn. and is the founder and CEO of Farmspace Systems, a company specializing in drone and aviation technology in agriculture.

Watch here.

From Kuwait to Capitol Hill

Maj. Gen. William M. Maloan served as the Deputy Commander, Joint Force Headquarters, Tennessee Army National Guard since 2007, and retired in 2012. He currently serves as the Presiding Judge and Chancellor of the 27th Judicial District for Weakley and Obion Counties in Tennessee. Featured were members of the Tennessee National Guard who recently returned from serving in Washington, D.C. during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Included were Capt. Elliott Martin, Lt. Col. Tony Glandof and 1st Lt. Brittany Allsop.

Watch here.

In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience

Dr. David Coffey, professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin, discussed his latest book, In Harm’s Way: A History of the American Military Experience that is being used now as a textbook at West Point Military Academy.

Watch here.

Women in the Modern Military

Cmdr. Braddock is a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. Since retiring in 2004 and earning a Master of Arts degree in counseling, has worked as a licensed marital and family therapist in Jackson, Tenn. She hosted a panel discussing the experiences of women in the modern military. Included were Cmdr. Becky Walthour, U.S. Coast Guard; Cmdr. Sheree T. Williams, U.S. Navy; Corp. Carrie Mercer, U.S. Marine Corps.

Watch here.

Go There: A Call to Bring Invisible Soldiers of Vietnam into View

Kent is a retiree of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, where she most recently served as the creative resources director. She is the author of “Better Men: Alpha Upsilon in Vietnam,” in which she sheds light on the comradery of 14 fraternity brothers from Alpha Gamma Rho’s Alpha Upsilon Chapter at the University of Tennessee at Martin who became brothers in service in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972. Kent holds a degree in psychology and a master of arts degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Tennessee. In this panel, several of the servicemen who were featured in her book shared their story. Included were 1st Lt. Thomas Raines, Vietnam veteran; 1st Lt. Bill Powell, Vietnam veteran; and Col. Ed Bevill, U.S. Army retired Vietnam veteran.

Watch here.


Minorities in the Military

Col. Porter is a retired Army serviceman who now serves as program director for Veterans Employed in Service Technology and Agriculture (VETSA.) Before retiring, Porter held the title of deputy chief of staff for the United States Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky. He has over 30 years of experience in human resources, much of that time is the Army. He led a panel on issues and prejudices facing service members in today’s armed forces. Included were Col. Milton Thompson and Dr. Adam Wilson.

Watch here.

Media Coverage

WBBJ Jackson attended the event and aired this story, and WPSD Paducah interviewed several of the guests in advance. You can find those interviews here.

NASA’s ‘Eyes on the Earth’ Program on The Globe in the Natural History Gallery

Just in: We have upgraded the West Tennessee PBS Globe in the Natural History Gallery with an interactive program that will educate and entertain guests and students who are curious about Earth. This new software includes NASA’s “Eyes on the Earth,” where guests can see a real-time display of Earth’s sea level, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, volcanic eruptions, forest fires and more.

The new program also has a comparison component that shows a school bus next to different satellites that are flying around the Earth today. Using programs listed under WorldViewer, education specialists and teachers who bring student groups on learning expeditions can have an in-person, real-time lesson on a variety of topics, such as climate connection; tropical storms; tetonic plates, volcanoes and earthquakes; water cycles; the Solar System; and watersheds.

“We are really excited to incorporate these new programs into our lessons that we offer school groups, homeschool groups and the public,” said Polly Brasher, education director for Discovery Park of America. “This tool will be extremely helpful in showing the amazing way our planet works.”

WorldViewer was designed by The Elumenati, an immersive projection design company that builds immersive VR technologies and other products. For guests and students, this program was made to create an immersive experience to share the immersive stories of planet Earth.

“Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and incorporating the new, hands-on program that guests can interact with in real-time is exactly the teaching tool we strive to have here at Discovery Park,” said Jennifer Wildes, director of exhibit for the museum. “We are always looking for ways to freshen up the different galleries, and installing this new program is just one way to add a little sparkle to the Natural History Gallery.”

The program is now up and running on the West Tennessee PBS Globe for all guests, teachers and students to experience. If you are an Earth science teacher and want to schedule a field trip to come and see it, please reach out to our reservations department. Schools who are 50% free-reduced lunch can apply for a scholarship to plan a field trip at no cost. Visit our Education Tab to learn more.

Dr. Rhea Seddon, Reaching for the Stars

Dr. Rhea Seddon, Reaching for the Stars

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting some of the women featured throughout our museum and heritage park who have changed history, made scientific breakthroughs, overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity and inspired the generations after them to see beyond.

One of two NASA flight suits on display in Discovery Park of America’s Moon Dome at STEM Landing was worn by former astronaut, Dr. Rhea Seddon. In 1978, Dr. Seddon was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program and would go on to serve a total of 30 days in space as  mission specialist on Space Shuttle flights in 1985 and 1991 and as a payload commander in charge of all science activities on her final flight in 1993.

After a 19 year career with NASA, she went on to become the assistant chief medical officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. There she led an initiative to improve patient safety, quality care and team effectiveness by use of an aviation-based model of Crew Resource Management.

She is a national speaker and award-winning author who today encourages young and old alike to reach for the stars. Dr. Seddon, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee-native now living in Nashville, was inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005, the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame also in 2015.

For more blog posts click here.

Discovery Park of America Provides Learning Tools for Local Preschool

Discovery Park of America Provides Learning Tools to Local Preschool

At Discovery Park of America, our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond. A big part of that mission includes working alongside organizations in our community to encourage others to grow and consider new ideas regardless of age or education.

Al Wright, Discovery Park’s director of maintenance, recently constructed learning tools for the Miles Head Start preschool in Union City, Tennessee. He carved dog treat bones for a “Pet Study” lesson that taught numerous objectives including sorting, classifying, counting, using fine motor skills to paint and comparing. This activity offered the young students a fun and interactive method of learning new skills that they will use in their everyday lives for years to come.

Wendi Wright, a teacher at Miles Head Start, said, “I truly appreciate the time Discovery Park of America took to help my students grow in so many areas while still having fun.”

Community engagement projects like this one are what Discovery Park’s  founders, Robert and Jenny Kirkland, envisioned when they built this one-of-a-kind, transformational museum and heritage park right here in Northwest Tennessee.

For more blog posts, click here.

Dr. Nadia Shakoor, Pioneer in Digital Agriculture

Dr. Nadia Shakoor, Pioneer in Digital Agriculture

As we celebrate Women’s History Month at Discovery Park, we are making people aware of the women who have changed history, made scientific breakthroughs, overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity and inspired the generations after them to see beyond.

Dr. Nadia Shakoor is a senior research scientist at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, and a pioneer in digital agriculture. She and her team are developing FieldDock, an integrated smart farm system that will collect and analyze real-time data from fields, allowing for effective tracking of crop performance.

We expect the FieldDock to transform the way crop scientists, breeders and farmers interact with agricultural technology and have a significant impact on the sustainability of food production.

While working on the FieldDock project, Dr. Shakoor needed a data-collection instrument that did not exist yet — so she invented one. The PheNode is a 100 percent solar-powered device with environmental sensors that monitor the soil, temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and more for researchers. Automated systems like the FieldDock will pioneer breakthrough for rapid advancement in digital agriculture and play a pivotal role in farms of the future. An example of Dr. Shakoor’s PheNode is on display in Discovery Park’s “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival” exhibit in the Simmons Bank Ag Center.

For more blog posts click here.

Southern Artist Showcase Features Southern Self-Taught Artists

Southern Artist Showcase Features Southern Self-Taught Artists

The Caldwell Collection, Works by Southern Self-taught Artists” is being featured in the Southern Artist Showcase through Sept. 27, 2021. This showcase includes artwork from various Southern artists including Ludie Amos (1935), Jimmy Lee Sudduth (1910-2007) and Burlon Craig (1914-2002). A common trend among these artists is that none of them received formal training.  They embraced their passion and produced artwork based on established traditions or simply created their own art forms. Also known as “folk art” or “outsider art,” each artist’s style is unique to their own influences.

Ludie Amos

Born in Georgia, Ludie Amos grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and later moved to Clarksville, Tennessee in 1959. Her connection to rural Georgia is a common theme among her artwork. She is a prize-winning tapestry artist, doll maker, painter and sculptor, who began sewing as a child with her mother.

Jimmy Lee Sudduth

A “finger painter” from Alabama, Jimmy Lee Sudduth was one of the early masters of Southern folk art. He rose to fame for his uncommon painting methods, and he often pulled his subject matter from the world around him.

Burlon Craig

Considered one of America’s great folk potters, Burlon Craig learned pottery-making at a young age in his home state of North Carolina. His work includes ceramic faces jugs, stoneware and pitcher pottery. He was honored with the National Folk Heritage Award by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1984.

Other artists represented in this collection include Riley (first name unknown); Jerry Brown; Herbert Baggett; Mary Close; M.C. “5 cent” Jones; Anderson Johnson; Alvin Jarrett; Priscilla Cassidy; John Andrew Schooler; Mary T. Smith; Lonnie Holly; and Sylvia Lane.

The collection is on loan from the West Tennessee Regional Art Center (WTRAC), where it was donated by Dr. Benjamin and Gertrude Caldwell for the purpose of cultural education for people of all ages throughout West Tennessee. By extending their collection to Discovery Park, the WTRAC is fulfilling both the Caldwell’s intended vision and Discovery Park’s mission of inspiring children and adults to see beyond.

This exhibit is sponsored by The Citizens Bank (TCB).

Discovery Park of America Adds Benefits to the Membership Program

Discovery Park of America Adds Benefits to the Membership Program

Beginning May 2021, the one-time price of a Discovery Park membership will increase from $1,000 to $1,500, and new benefits have been added to the program. Until May 2021, a lifetime membership can still be purchased for $1,000. Existing members may also upgrade their child or adult to a lifetime membership by paying the difference between their current level and $1,000 until April 30, 2021. After May 1, 2021, upgrades can be made by paying the difference between the current level and $1,500. These are all one-time payments. $500 of the one-time lifetime membership fee goes to the Kirkland Scholarship Fund that provides complimentary tickets to visit Discovery Park at no cost to qualifying school groups and foster families.

Additionally, many new benefits have been added to the program that greatly increases its value to members.


  • NEW Acknowledgment of $500 gift to the Kirkland Scholarship Fund
  • *Unlimited admission to the museum and heritage park
  • NEW **Unlimited admission to all special attractions
  • NEW Unlimited admission to all ticketed temporary exhibits
  • NEW 10 complimentary guest tickets to Discovery Park annually for the lifetime of the member
  • Access to members only programs and events
  • Presale opportunities for programs and events
  • NEW Name included on Discovery Park’s partner wall in the lobby
  • NEW Access to the Trapper’s Cabin
  • 10% off in The Gift Shop
  • 10% off in Sabin’s Café

*Access dependent on Discovery Park’s hours of operation.
**Attractions currently include Cooper Tower, Starship Theater and the Earthquake Simulator. Tickets to the theater and simulator must be reserved at the ticket counter upon arrival. Specific time depends on availability. Discovery Park will occasionally update and change special attractions.

“Members are the heart of any museum,” said Scott Williams, president and CEO of Discovery Park. “Last year, after a survey with our current members, we added several levels for families. This new Lifetime Membership level is another good suggestion we received from a number of current members.”

There are many ways a Discovery Park membership of any level is a benefit for the member and a source of support for Discovery Park, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission of inspiring children and adults to see beyond. Members receive free entry to the museum and park and, while Discovery Park does receive a financial gift in payment for the membership, some of the biggest benefits come from other areas. Members are usually the biggest supporters of the mission of the museum and are often the way others find out about it. Members are also the most active group for non-profits like Discovery Park, and they often become volunteers or support the organization during fundraisers and other events.

You may join Discovery Park of America online. With questions, or to upgrade or renew your membership, please call 731-885-5455 or stop by the front ticket counter and one of our guest services associates will be happy to assist you.

Lifetime Member FAQ

Q. Is the children’s lifetime membership less expensive?
A. No, the children’s and adult’s lifetime memberships are both the same price.

Q. I was given a lifetime membership early in the history of Discovery Park. Do I qualify for these new benefits?
A. Yes, you are a lifetime member and will receive all the benefits.

Q. May I keep my family membership and add the benefits of the lifetime membership for myself?
A. Yes, you can pay the difference between the lifetime membership and the level of membership you have already purchased, however, when the original family membership expires, those family members will no longer be part of your lifetime membership and will need to renew as either an individual, as part of another new family membership or as a new lifetime member.

Q. I was a charter member and renew each year at the charter member rate. Can I upgrade to the lifetime membership?
A. Yes, you will simply pay the difference between a lifetime membership and an individual charter membership (Adult 18+: $50, Individual Child 4-17: $25).

Q. I want to give a lifetime membership as a gift. How do I do that?
A. Purchase a gift membership online, by calling 731-885-5455 or stopping by the front ticket counter.

Buy Lifetime Membership

Please Note: If you wish to upgrade your current membership plan to a lifetime membership, please call 731-885-5455 or stop by the main ticket counter for assistance. 

Some photos were taken before the mask mandate.

Charles Henry Turner: Entomologist

Charles Henry Tuner: Entomologist

In Discovery Park’s newly established permanent exhibit, “AgriCulture: Innovating for our Survival, over 10,000 complex, creative and intelligent beings reside in a wooden and glass chamber in the building’s northeast corner. There are eight living species of honeybee in this chamber, and each of them are brilliant, efficient and incredibly structured in their behavior and interactions.

However, this was not always believed to be the case.

For millennia, naturalists assumed that insects were essentially mindless – incapable of complex thought, learning, recognizing patterns or even seeing color. For this reason, little was done to develop the honey industry in the way of altering a colony’s behavior to increase production.

This changed around 1910 with the release of a number of scientific publications by St. Louis-based scientist Charles Henry Turner.

Turner was born in Cincinnati in 1867, graduated valedictorian from Gainesville High School and earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of science in biology from the University of Cincinnati. Despite his innate brilliance, experience and education, Turner faced an obstacle in his search for employment that, in the late 19th century, seemed impossible to overcome – his race. Turner went on to become to the first African American person to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1907, but upon seeking employment at an esteemed university, still faced racism and dismissal of his accomplishments. Turner became a high school science teacher at Sumner High School in St. Louis in 1908 and remained there until his retirement in 1922.

Nevertheless, over the course of 30 years, he published over 70 scientific papers, many of which pertained to the behavior of insects. Turner’s work essentially formed the foundation for entomologists for the coming century. Turner was likely the first black entomologist to be published in the United States, as well as the first black scientist published in the journal Science.

Turner is perhaps most well-known for his work with honeybees, detailing in a 1910 paper how bees in his independent study had reacted to various colored disks, showing complex thought processes and color vision.

As we celebrate Black History Month at Discovery Park, we are making people aware of the contributions of black scientists, engineers, artists, and other great minds who have shaped the disciplines represented in each of our museum and heritage park’s galleries.

Volunteer of the Year: Sue Ellen Morris

Volunteer: a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service

Discovery Park is pleased to name Sue Ellen Morris as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. Volunteers are important to Discovery Park. They enhance our ability to implement our mission by offering their knowledge and expertise in a variety of ways.

When Sue Ellen started volunteering in early 2020 at Discovery Park, she soon realized one of her favorite things was sharing information about the park with first-time guests. “I really enjoy meeting the people that visit from around the world,” said Sue Ellen. “I like hearing their stories and watching the children’s reactions when they walk through the doors and see the giant cave bear or the dinosaur skeletons. Some are frightened by the bear and others want to hurry to see if it’s real.”

“Of course, 2020 was a tough year for all of us,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park president and CEO. “Rounding the corner and seeing Sue Ellen sitting there with her mask on, ready to welcome guests, always made me feel a little happier.”

Sue Ellen received an etched serving board handmade by Discovery Park volunteer John. R. Hall for her dedication to Discovery Park of America.

Get to Know the 2020 Volunteer of the Year

Born in Hickman County, Ky., to Raymond and Estelle Morris, Sue Ellen grew up on the family farm with her two sisters, Gina Lou and Ruth Ann. She was always helping out on the farm, driving tractors and planting soybean, corn and wheat. Growing up, she was also an avid reader and volunteered at the library in Clinton, Ky. She loved reading books about places around the world that she never dreamed a little girl from a small town in Kentucky would visit. Little did she know what was to come.

She attended Murray State University and received her undergraduate degree in English with a minor in history. Sue Ellen then decided to pursue law school and attended the University of Tulsa. After she graduated with her law degree, she realized that the big city life and the cold were not for her. She missed her family, the warmer weather and the greenery of her hometown. So, she packed everything up and headed back home to begin her career as a lawyer at Roberts, Bugg and Morris in Clinton, Ky.

Once her career took off as a partner in the law firm, she remembered the books she read as a little girl about all the exotic places around the world she wished she could visit. Sue Ellen convinced her sister, Ruth Ann, to be her travel partner and they started exploring the amazing places she had only read and dreamed about visiting. She and her sister visited places all around Europe, including Ireland, Great Britain and Italy. Their furthest adventure to date has been to New Zealand. They have also met friends that they now travel with on their adventures.

“She loved reading books on places around the world that she never dreamed a little girl from a small town in Kentucky would visit. Little did she know what was to come.”

“My favorite place that I have visited is Rome,” said Sue Ellen. “The city, the history, the food and the people make it one of the most interesting and culturally rich places to visit. We have found the best gelato place in Rome and have to visit it every time we are there.”

Sue Ellen and her sister had to put their next adventures on hold when COVID-19 hit. “We are big cruisers and had two cancelled, one in 2020 and one in 2021, but we have a Celebrity Cruise planned later this year that starts in Venice and ends in Rome. We are really hoping we get to experience this trip.”

Since international travel is paused for now, we asked Sue Ellen where her favorite place to visit is in the United States. “I really like to travel to the Smoky Mountains. We rent a cabin, take hikes and just relax.” She already has a condo booked in April to hunt for spring wildflowers in Sevierville with her travelling buddies.

“I like hearing their stories and seeing the children’s reactions when they walk through the doors and see the giant cave bear or the dinosaur skeletons. Some are frightened by the bear and others want to hurry and touch it to see if it’s real.”

She still practices law part-time, but within the next couple of years, she wants to have something more she can do to give back to the community once she completely retires. This volunteer program fits in well with her plans. Plus, Sue Ellen enjoys taking photos of the guests and giving them the information they need to enhance their experience at Discovery Park.

When asked if she recommends others to volunteer at the park, she said, “Yes! This is a great opportunity for retired educators or for anyone who is passionate about sharing knowledge with others.” She also shared her favorite part of the park. “I really enjoy the grounds, and I like to see the transformation of the outdoor foliage that occurs as the seasons change. The grounds staff does an awesome job. I also love the old cars and there are a couple I would love to take home.”

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the volunteer program at Discovery Park, please email Polly Brasher at for more information.

Discovery Park Partners with Farmspace Systems and VETSA

Discovery Park Partners with Farmspace Systems and VETSA

A unique view of Discovery Park of America can be seen in these photos and video provided by Chance Weldon and Ted Moore with Farmspace Systems who recently demonstrated the latest in drone technology for Scott Williams, Discovery Park CEO, and Ardis Porter, retired Army Colonel and the director of VETSA (Veterans Employed in Technology and Service in Agriculture).

VETSA is a pilot program designed as a 12-month intensive experience with coursework and hands-on participation in active farming and research projects or a choice of certification programs that provide valuable and marketable professional skills with a shorter time commitment. This program offers veterans the opportunity to participate in trade workshops and conferences, networking and post-training support.

Farmspace Systems recently partnered with Discovery Park on the permanent exhibit “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival.” 

Drone footage of Discovery Center and STEM Landing.

Drone footage of the 50-acre heritage park at Discovery Park. 

#OnThisDay: Dec. 17 – 24

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

Transportation Gallery

  • Dec. 17, 1903 (117th anniversary) – Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the first powered plane for 12 seconds near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Military Gallery

  • Dec. 18, 1865 (155th anniversary) – The 13th Amendment was formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, officially abolishing slavery in America.
  • Dec. 19, 1941 (79th anniversary) – In a major shake-up of the military high command, Adolf Hitler assumes the position of commander in chief of the German army during World War II.

Freedom Square: Liberty Hall

  • Dec. 19, 1777 (243rd anniversary) – Gen. George Washington and his troops arrived at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 22 miles from British-occupied Philadelphia.

STEM Landing

  • Dec. 21, 1968 (52nd anniversary)Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on this day. On Christmas Eve, the astronauts entered into orbit around the moon.
  • Dec. 19, 1972 (48th anniversary) – The Apollo lunar-landing program ended on this day when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean. This lunar mission was called Apollo 17.

Natural History Gallery

  • Dec. 23, 1938 (82nd anniversary) – A living coelacanth, thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, was discovered off the east coast of South Africa.

Technology Gallery

  • Dec. 24, 1906 (114th anniversary) – The first radio broadcast for entertainment and music was transmitted from Brant Rock, Massachusetts to the public.

Discovery Park of America Announces Plans for 2021

We are excited to announce plans for 2021. While the year will be very different than it would have been without the challenges brought on by COVID-19, we continue to implement tactics that allow us to enthusiastically continue our mission of inspiring children and adults to see beyond.

One popular opportunity that will return in 2021 is free admission for children 17 and under for the month of January, thanks to the generosity of our annual gallery sponsors ATA Accounting Firm, Magnolia Place Assisted Living, Simmons Bank and Southern Machinery Repair.

One of our most recent additions, “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” opened Dec. 5, 2020 and is located in the Simmons Bank Ag Center. This one-million-dollar permanent exhibit  tells the story of farming innovation in the past, present—and especially—future. Guests experience how food, fuel and fiber get from the farm to the family as they learn about the role of innovation in the field of international agriculture today.

There will be several temporary exhibits among the galleries at Discovery Park in 2021.  “Southern Artist Showcase: The Caldwell Collection, Works by Southern Self-taught Artists” can be seen March 4 through Sept. 27. The exhibit showcases some of the art from the collection of the West Tennessee Regional Art Center. Included will be works of art by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Helen La France and Sulton Rogers. “Self-taught Southern artists have in common a powerful belief that they simply are artists. Most seem driven to express themselves visually. Some work within established traditions, while many others create their own distinct art forms,” said Bill Hickerson, executive director of the center.

“40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World” will be on display July 21 through Sept. 6. This powerful exhibit features 40 photographs by philanthropist and farmer Howard G. Buffett that document the world hunger crisis. Traveling to more than 137 countries, Buffett turned his camera lens on the powerful forces that fuel hunger and poverty. Buffett believes that each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our life goals, just as farmers have about 40 growing seasons to improve their harvests.

“The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps” opens on Dec. 2, 2021 and will be on display through March 1, 2022. It features globes and maps on loan from Murray Hudson’s collection of more than 40,000 objects. He has collected for many years and currently owns and operates Murray Hudson Antique Maps, Globes, Books, & Prints in Halls, Tenn. The exhibit will include examples of vintage globes and maps from different eras that reflect what the world was like at the point in time in history when they were produced.

While some of our live concert events and indoor programs are postponed until they can be held safely, a lot of our events can be held while following recommended health and safety guidelines. We are excited to announce that by popular demand “Pumpkin Village” will return in 2021, and the “Let It Glow” light show will return with a new component where guests can walk through a portion of the light show.

“The leadership team of Discovery Park takes very seriously the challenge of providing a safe experience for our guests who come to northwest Tennessee from literally around the world,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park’s president and CEO. “Although the schedule looks a little different than in previous years, we’re excited about the exhibits and events we are able to host in 2021.”

For a full list of events, visit Discovery Park 2021 Calendar.