Discovery Park’s plans for 2021 includes kids’ free admission in Jan.

December 22, 2020
Discovery Park of America volunteer Marti Doss paints with guests. Doss has been a volunteer for the park since it opened in 2013. (Photo submitted) Discovery Park of America volunteer Marti Doss paints with guests. Doss has been a volunteer for the park since it opened in 2013. (Photo submitted)

Discovery Park of America recently announced plans for 2021. While the year will be very different than it would have been without the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the organization continues to implement tactics that allow it to enthusiastically continue its 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.

The most recent addition to Discovery Park, “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 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 the live concert events and indoor programs are postponed until they can be held safely, a number of events that can be held while adhering to recommended health and safety guidelines remain on the calendar.

“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.”

The events at Discovery Park in 2021 will take full advantage of the 50-acre heritage park and 100,000-square-foot museum that provide plenty of room for social distancing. One popular display, “Pumpkin Village,” will return in 2021 throughout the month of October and will feature more than 5,000 pumpkins in a creative display created by Discovery Park’s landscape designers. The popular “Let It Glow” drive-through light show returns in 2021, with a new component where guests can walk through a light show on part of the grounds.

Other scheduled events in 2021 include: April 2 – 3, Easter eggs with candy presented to ages 12 and younger; April 23 – 25, Military Living History; May 15, Cardboard Boat Regatta; June 12, Cruise-in; July 4, Independence Day Celebration; Aug. 6 – 7, Antique Tractor Show; Sept. 18, Pediatric Day and Discovery Dash; Sept. 25 – 26, Southern Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival; Oct. 1 - 31, Pumpkin Village; and Nov 12 – Dec 31, “Let It Glow” Light Show Drive-Through and—new for 2021—Walk-Through.

Discovery Park is following all health and safety guidelines and requires guests ages three and older to wear a mask when visiting. For those who do not have one, a mask will be provided at no charge.

A complete calendar of events can be found at