Moments of Wonder for a Lifetime of Learning
Our mission is to create a place of lifelong learning where people, from young child to senior citizen, embrace science as a way of knowing about themselves, their community, and their world.
Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Situated on 84-acres, our interactive science park includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits which are safe havens for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. Other popular attractions include over 60 species of live animals, Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, and Into the Mist.
Thank you for your support!
The Museum of Life and Science is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Museum earns over 83% of our annual operating budget through membership, admission, fees and contributions. Thank you for your patronage and support!
We are also grateful for ongoing public support from Durham County. Through this public/private partnership, the Museum will continue to serve our region and our State with distinctive and dynamic learning experiences.
Museum Executive Team
Barry Van Deman | President and CEO
(919) 220-5429 ext. 309
Debbie May | Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration
(919) 220-5429 ext. 306 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Roy Griffiths | Vice President for Exhibits and Planning
(919) 220-5429 ext. 369 | email@example.com
Julie Rigby | Vice President for External Relations
(919) 220-5429 ext. 317 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mitchell Sava | Vice President for Innovation and Engagement
(919) 220-5429 ext.328 | email@example.com
Betsy Hall | Vice President for Guest Experiences
(919) 220-5429 ext. 343 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Hoshour | Senior Director of Membership
(919) 220-5429 ext. 391 | email@example.com
History of the Museum of Life and Science
1946 | Durham's First Trail-Side Nature Center
In 1946, a group of dedicated volunteers began Durham, North Carolina's first trail-side nature center. Known as "The Children's Museum," the center flourished, and soon a collection began with minerals and dinosaur fossils. The fever of space exploration and astronauts who trained in nearby Chapel Hill motivated the search for an aerospace exhibit. A kind soul rented a truck to haul the now-famous landmark Mercury Redstone rocket from Alabama to its new home on Murray Avenue in Durham to grace the exterior of a burgeoning indoor/outdoor science park.
1970s | Expansion, Name Change
The 1970s marked a period of expansion that included a name change. Now called the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, capital expansion included outdoor exhibits for large animals, expanded Aerospace and Geology exhibits, and the installation of the Ellerbe Creek Railway. The County of Durham appropriated operating funding for the first time in 1973 and the NC General Assembly provided capital support for facility improvements.
1986 | Museum Master Plan
The development of a comprehensive Master Plan was the catalyst to a second major period of growth for the Museum. First, construction of an indoor Nature Center featuring live animals native to North Carolina was completed. In 1991, the Museum completed the Mercury Meeting Room, a temporary exhibit gallery, an expansion of the lobby and gift shop, new discovery rooms, and an additional 6,000 square feet of exhibit space. 1993 marked the completion of the Science and Technology Wing. This area now featured a range of programs in the natural and physical sciences and helped make the Museum one of the premier centers of informal science in the country.
1998 | BioQuest Interactive Science Experience
Strategic plans resulted in the development of a two-phase interactive science experience dubbed BioQuest. This experience was proclaimed by the National Science Foundation as a "national model" for science centers and linking people with plants, animals, and interactive exhibits out-of-doors.
BioQuest Phase 1: Magic Wings Butterfly House
Phase One began with the creation of a three-story tropical conservatory. Bringing visitors into intimate contact with exotic butterflies in a tropical indoor environment, the facility also supports over 200 tropical plant varieties. One of the largest butterfly houses in the Southeast, the 5,000-square-foot tropical conservatory is encased with an addition 13,000 square feet of learning labs and the Bayer CropScience Insectarium which officially opened in March 2000.
BioQuest Phase 2: Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, Dinosaur Trail
Phase Two of this expansion included Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, and the return of the Museum's popular Dinosaur Trail. The National Science Foundation validated the quality of this one-of-a-kind outdoor learning experience with a $2 million dollar grant. The people of Durham County offered resounding support for this project with over $11 million in bond funding. Explore the Wild opened in 2006, and Catch the Wind opened in 2007. The new Dinosaur Trail opened in 2009 thanks to private support of over $800,000 to supplement the $675,000 secured in Durham County bond funds.
Board of Directors
Claudia Curtis | Chair | Chief Employment Counsel – Becton, Dickinson and Company
Sheronda Jeffries | Vice Chair | TP9000 Program Manager – Cisco
Ian Huckabee | Past Chair | Chief Marketing Officer – Principled Technologies
Charlie Moore | Secretary | Senior Vice President – The Moore Recorr Bell Group & Merril Lynch Wealth Management
Jordan Clark | Treasurer | Business Banking Team Lead – SunTrust Bank
Barry A. Van Deman | President and CEO
Phil Bartos | President and CEO – NarraSoft Corporation
Yoell Boyle | Durham Finance Director – Merck, Sharp & Dohme
Kim Cameron | Community Development Relationship Manager – Woodforest National Bank
William "Bo" Ferguson | Deputy City Manager – City of Durham
Nakia Hardy | Deputy Superintendent – Durham Public Schools
James Hill | Commissioner – Durham County
Jillian Johnson | Council Member at Large – City of Durham
Scott McGeary | Retired – Pediatrician and Innovator of Urgent Care
Jodi Miller | Deputy County Manager – Durham County
LaShana Morris | Entrepreneur
Melissa Rhodes | Chief Development Officer – Altavant Sciences
Sanyin Siang | Executive Director, Coach K's Leadership & Ethics Center – Duke University Fuqua School of Business
Dr. Gregg Stave | Consultant in Occupational Medicine and Corporate Health
Jon P. Stonehouse | President and CEO – BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Richard Thomas| Former Chief Information Officer – Quintiles