Parking: On-site parking is available with several accessible spaces in the first row closest to our main entrance. Parking is free and on a first-come, first-served basis.
Restrooms: ADA-accessible restrooms are located both upstairs and downstairs. Changing facilities are also located on both levels and in the Tiny Town family restroom.
Service Animals: Service animals accompanying a guest with a disability covered under the ADA are welcome at Discovery Center. If a service animal will be accompanying you during your visit, please let the Discovery Center staff know at the front desk.
Wheelchair Access: The Discovery Center building is fully ADA-accessible, and we have worked to make as many exhibits fully accessible as possible. Many areas in our outdoor exhibits – including the wetlands walkways – are also accessible.
Benches: strategically placed throughout the building.
Elevator: serves both floors, and is always open to guests. Ramps are located at the main and patio entrances downstairs. The wetlands walking areas are also accessible by ramp.
Personal Care Assistants: Paid Personal Care Assistants are given free admission into the museum when accompanying a guest with a disability covered under the ADA.
Behavioral and Sensory Needs
Assistive Technology Check Out: Several types of assistive technologies are available for check out during your visit. There is no associated cost, but we do require a deposit of your driver’s license when checking items out. We have the following items available:
- Noise-Reducing Headphones
- Transition Timers
- Weighted Vests
- Easi-Grip Loop Scissors and Triangular Crayons
All check out items are properly sanitized after each use.
In addition to the Discovery Center offering a variety of free days throughout the year, we also offer free memberships and camp and field trip scholarships through donor support. Thanks to a grant from United Way and the Predators Foundation, our Mobile Education Program provides outreach to Title I schools each week.
Thanks to Nissan Foundation, we offer cultural free days each year to educate the community about their neighbors. These days include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Discover India Day, Hispanic Heritage Day, and Holiday Open House. For our non-English speaking guests, we offer translation devices available at the front desk. Staff are equipped to answer FAQs asked in Spanish.
Public Programs are held each afternoon, and several times daily during the summer. These are included with your admission and available to guests of all ages and ability levels. You can visit the Programs or Special Events pages of our website for specific details regarding the weekly activities for each program, or you can contact Madden Purcell for more information. We invite all guests to participate in these programs and are happy to make accommodations when possible.
All Access Nights are times when the Discovery Center is open for special needs families only. You’ll be able to explore our exhibits and meet other families. More info»
Field Studies are our guided programs for school groups. We cover a variety of topics through hands-on exploration all year long. Please let us know in advance if you have children with any special needs so we can make any necessary modifications to our topics and schedules for the day. For information regarding field studies or to discuss options for accommodations, please contact our Scheduling Coordinator.
Cultural Competency Learning Institute Participant
The Discovery Center places particular value on a meaningful exchange on societal issues, locally and globally, where understanding of, and engagement with, science is essential—and always in the spirit of tolerance, peace, and respect for cultural identities and diversity.
All Access Inclusion Network
Discovery Center is proud to be certified by the All Access Inclusion Network. Staff members are trained by the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center which promotes acceptance and inclusion of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families by building connections throughout a community network of arts, education, athletic, and entertainment organizations. More info»
Opportunities for Adults with Special Needs
The Discovery Center offers volunteer opportunities for adults with special needs through the following programs:
IDEAL – Lipscomb University’s IDEAL Program provides young adults with IDD access to opportunities for growth and independence that promote inclusion, belonging and contribution, which can lead to life-changing outcomes, thus impacting students, families and the community.
Journeys in Community Living provides community participation services, industrial training services, job training and placement services, special services, residential services and transportation services to more than 120 adults with intellectual disabilities in both Rutherford and Cannon Counties in Middle Tennessee.
- National Autism Center
- Autism Tree Project Foundation
- National Foundation of Autism Research
- Kids Included Together
- Sesame Street Autism Resources for Parents
- Reduce the Noise: Help Loved Ones with Sensory Overload Enjoy Shopping
- CDC Autism Links and Resources
- Operation Autism for Military Families
- Academic Accommodation Resources
- Home Modifications for Kids with Sensory Concerns
- Temple Grandin’s Teaching Tips
- Estate Planning for Parents of Kids with Autism
- Inclusion Network of Nashville
- Disability-friendly Backyard for Kids
- Resilience in Families with ASD
Become a Sponsor
Calling all Community Partners! We hope that you will consider supporting our accessibility and inclusion efforts through sponsorship or in-kind services.
We offer wonderful benefits built into our sponsorships such as complimentary admission passes, Museum family memberships, print and media exposure, recognition at the event, and vendor booth space. We will also provide you with a letter recognizing your charitable donation, as we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Please contact Lindsey Jennings at email@example.com or 615-890-2300 ext. 221 to get involved now.