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Explorit's Timeline: 1979 - 2014

A brief history of Explorit, from inception to present day.


  • A group of women scientists and educators envision an informal community science center in Davis.  "A place people could find out how science is part of all of our everyday lives."


  • Three women, Anne Hance, Judy Moores and Maria Ogrydziak begin hosting informal coffee meetings with the public to discuss ideas for the new science center.


  • The group applies to the Davis School District for the use of a 900 sq. ft. room in central Davis.  The school district "took a great leap of faith," and allows the group part-time use of the space. 


  • The science center opens for afternoons and weekends and is run completely by volunteers. 
  • The same year the center receives its first grant and expands its programs to include public weekend activities, vacation classes and a family lecture series. 


  • Four administrative/management staff positions are created. Two of these will not become fully paid positions until 1990 


  • The Davis Science Center is incorporated as an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) California Corporation and the initial board of directors is established. Biologist Dr. Mark NcNamee is the first Board President 


  • The science center is in full swing.  The school district allows the science center exclusive use of the room at the district office. 
  • By the end of the year more than 2,500 people had used the Center's programs. 


  • Secretarial, bookkeeping and most teaching staff are now paid. However, volunteers in many capacities are a substantial and essential part of the center. This is expected to continue.


  • The first major fundraising event is a Wine Tasting organized by Lois Wolk.


  • The Center begins offering memberships and traveling programs.  This boosts the number of people the Center is able to reach in a year to nearly 8,000.


  • The Davis school district renovates a large classroom in a local elementary school to provide more space for the Center and the Center provides school class visits at no charge in lieu of rent.

1986 - 1990

  • The Center continues to grow, expanding both onsite and traveling programs. 
  • Plans to move the science center to a larger, permanent location begin to form. A capital campaign raises sufficient funds to allow for serious plans for larger facilities.


  • Renovation and remodeling of the Mace Ranch house begins. 


  • The Center signs a lease with the CIty of Davis and moves into the newly renovated Mace Ranch house. 
  • The name of the Davis Science Center is officially changed to the Explorit Science Center. 
  • The first Corporate Science Challenge takes place.


  • Explorit's award-winning website debuts with information about programs, interactive quizzes and science resources.


  • A portable building is added to provide much-needed space.


  • In order to accommodate the need for more office and classroom space Explorit's West Wing is opened.  In conjunction, the outdoor spaces are improved with the addition of the patio area and the native plants garden.


  • Explorit's website acquires its own domain name,, but continues to be hosted by the Davis Community Network. 


  • Explorit serves about 47,000 people over a 12-county area, on a budget of just over $500,000. The center has a paid staff of around 20 (part-time and full-time), and more than 100 volunteers.


  • Explorit embarks on a second capital campaign to expand its facilities.  


  • Explorit expands science center programs into a new space on 2nd street.  The new facility offers 9,700 square feet of space on two floors, enough to accommodate up to four visiting classrooms of students at the same time. 
  • Nature programs, summer camps and business / staff offices remain at Explorit's Mace Park Branch.


  • Explorit reaches nearly 80,000 people in 16 Northern California counties. 
  • The wet lab, a space for fun, messy experiments, opens. 
  • Lou Ziskind, a 27-year veteran of nonprofit administration, is hired as Explorit's executive director, succeeding Suzanne Ullensvang, who worked at Explorit for almost 14 years, ten of them as executive director..


  • Explorit opens the second floor of the museum as a changing exhibit space.  Move It! Science In Action, Explorit's first long-term exhibition, opens on the first floor.
  • Explorit was selected to be a part of Bank of America's Neighborhood Excellence Initiative and as one of eight museums to participate in the Portal to the Public program. 


  • For the second year, Explorit was named the "Best Museum for Big Kids" in the Nickelodeon Parents' Picks Awards.
  • Explorit sets attendance records, even as it begins grappling with a budget shortfall.


  • Severely affected by the 2008 National Great Recession Explorit is forced to return all programs and operations to the Mace Ranch House.
  • With a committed, energetic board and a reduced but determined staff team Explorit works hard to recover momentum. A new mission "To ignite and foster curiosity about science and nature through inquiry and discovery" guides the center into an optimistic future.


  • Programs flourish again and Explorit has ventured into new territory with new programs such as the Community Science Projects of which the multi-year Spiders In Your World was the first.
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