The mission of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (AAHOM) is to create moments of discovery that inspire curiosity, exploration, and respect for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the natural world. We envision a world where curiosity today leads to more purposeful lives tomorrow. Thanks to a steadfast belief in the power of STEM when placed in the hands of pre-K through 8th graders, we enjoy one of the highest annual attendance rates at a science center in the State of Michigan: over 350,000 visitors in the last year. We have over 7,500 family members, demonstrating the value they find in our exhibits and programs.
AAHOM opened nearly 40 years ago in an historic firehouse in downtown Ann Arbor and quickly became the cornerstone of informal science education in the community. This was achieved by working with scientists, artists, designers, engineers, and innovators who transferred their extraordinary talents and knowledge into the creation of simple, effective science exhibits that can be understood by children, their families, and audiences of all ages. Following several expansions, AAHOM now occupies 40,000 square feet, with 20,000 devoted to exhibit space for 250+ interactive exhibits designed to promote science discovery and literacy.
Nearly six million visitors have visited AAHOM since it opened its doors in 1982, making it one of the most popular science centers in the State of Michigan. In the last fiscal year, October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019, 78% of AAHOM visitors came from five counties in Southeast Michigan as follows: Washtenaw (32.6%), Wayne (24.2%), Oakland (14.2%), Livingston (3.6%), and Macomb (3.0%). Our education programs align with State of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and Next Generation Science Standards. Outreach and Distance Learning programs served over 30,000 individuals off site in FY19.
AAHOM is dedicated to ensuring that our doors are open to all children, regardless of ability to pay admission charges. We offer discounted or free admission to Title One schools, families with patients at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House guests, Michigan EBT and Bridge Card holders, special needs children and adults, and ESL families. The Museum’s Discover Science Assistance Fund subsidizes Museum programming through on-site field trips, outreach, or distance learning programs, for schools where 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced lunch. Over the last fiscal year, we were proud to subsidize visits to over 200 schools, serving more than 15,000 students across 16 counties. We were able to accomplish this thanks to generous grants and donations to this fund.
We accomplish our mission through the combined effort of our incredible team of full- and part-time staff, educators, and volunteers. We also rely on the generous support of our community of donors who, through their investment, enable our organization to grow and serve our community in new and diverse ways.