The project got its start when five women joined to plan for a children's museum November 1977. They organized with 24 other members as the "Discovery Place Guild" in February 1978 and began collecting donations. John Johns was chairman of the board and Sam DiPiazza was treasurer. A temporary exhibit opened in Fall 1980, followed by the opening of the permanent museum in October 1981.
The museum's director was Barbara Royal. The director of education was Pam Lovelady, the director of volunteers was Patty Pendleton, and the exhibit designer was Lamar Smith. Martha Gorham managed the museum store.
By the late 1990s the Discovery Place and its neighbor, the city-owned Red Mountain Museum, were both planning to expand. Mayor Richard Arrington Jr pushed the groups to merge with the idea of opening a larger science museum in downtown Birmingham. The result of the merger was "Discovery 2000", which was later renamed the McWane Science Center and opened in the former Loveman's building downtown in 1998.
- Young, Diane (September 1982) "Look, Touch, and Learn at the Discovery Place" Southern Living. Vol. 17, No. 9, pp. 131-133
- "Hands on Discovery Place of Birmingham" (September/October 1989) Gifted Child Today Vol. 12, No. 5, pp. 14-17
- Folse, Molly (August 16, 2007) "Leveled: The sad demise of the Red Mountain Museum." Birmingham Weekly.