The museum was originally accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1993 and was re-accredited in 2001. During the period between its founding and its accreditation, the museum actively collected approximately 14,000 cultural and historical artifacts and numerous species of live animals and insects. In the 1970s, in-museum and outreach programs were developed, utilizing both the collections and the museum’s exhibits.
In 1998, the museum moved to the River Market and changed its name to the Museum of Discovery. The new facility provided more hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs, and the museum began to focus more intensely on science, technology, engineering and math. In 2003, the museum merged with the Children’s Museum of Arkansas and assumed responsibility for addressing the needs of preschool children. Also in 2003, the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate.
In 2011, the museum closed for nine months in order to add a new entrance and undergo a total renovation. This project, funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, also provided funding for new, interactive science exhibits, completing the museum’s transformation from a collecting museum to a science center.