For a children’s museum, Port Discovery is getting kind of old.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the staple destination for Baltimore youths is making some big changes. At a press conference Thursday that featured a student choir from Northwood Elementary School and a man on stilts, the museum announced a five-year, $17.5 million exhibition plan. What exactly does that mean for you and your family’s next visit? Here are the highlights.

New exhibits

The museum is aiming to be even more inclusive for children of various ages and abilities with a slate of upcoming exhibits.

The primary focus is a multistory “sky garden” in the Port Discovery atrium where children can climb and gain environmental awareness. They also promise to deliver three new exhibits: one focused on space and STEM, another low-sensory exhibit about skies, and a local food market featuring a teaching kitchen.

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“The [museum’s] master plan is not just an expansion, it’s a reimagining of how we engage young minds,” said Port Discovery Board Chairman Dennis Rasmussen. “It’s about creating spaces that foster curiosity, collaboration and real-world learning.”

The At Play Early Learning Institute

The museum will launch a new initiative that emphasizes the role of Port Discovery as a crucial lab to support parents and childhood educators.

At Play will provide internships for Early Childhood degree and certificate students, as well as training and workshops for people who work in early education. They will also host seminars and lectures focusing on the science of play.

The Discovery Crew

Port Discovery isn’t just talking the talk about being committed to amplifying children’s voices for the betterment of the museum, they’re also walking the walk. They’ve enlisted a group of young ambassadors, all between the ages of 5 and 11, to give input on museum exhibits as well as participate in outreach programs and other special events. The Discovery Crew will provide honest feedback about what kids really want.

“Our mission is to provide unique opportunities and high-quality experiences that make play accessible, educational and fun for all, and what better way to achieve this than by listening to the kids themselves?” said Port Discovery President and CEO Carter Polakoff.

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Same ol’ fun

Even though the museum is bringing big changes, its goal will remain the same: to continue to give children fun learning experiences.

There are events planned all year to celebrate their quarter-century in operation, including its annual fundraising gala on April 12 and a free community birthday bash on June 2.

“Here’s to another 25 years,” said Parker G., a 10-year-old fifth grade student on the Discovery Crew, as everyone at the press conference raised imaginary glasses for a proposed toast. “Let’s sail to the future with hope, joy and generous support to this wonderful community that makes it all possible.”

Taji Burris has covered the Baltimore music scene since 2015 for outlets such as The Working Title and The 4th Quarter, and now at the Baltimore Banner. 

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