Port Discovery Children’s Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Ambitious $17.5M Exhibition Master Plan and a Year of Engaging Events

Museum Sets Course for Future with Innovative Exhibits and Educational Initiatives


(Baltimore, MD, January 18, 2024) – Today, Port Discovery Children’s Museum announced a transformative five-year, $17.5 million exhibition master plan at a kickoff event for its 25th anniversary celebration at the museum. This announcement was one of several new initiatives launched as part of Port Discovery’s next chapter of redefining the landscape of interactive learning and play.

The extensive renovation plan expands the Museum’s range, with each new exhibit carefully designed to cater to various ages, abilities, and developmental stages to ensure inclusive activities for learning. Visitors can anticipate an imaginative local food market and teaching kitchen, designed to fuse culinary education with interactive play, and a space-themed STEM exhibit featuring a rover-building station set to spark curiosity in science and technology. The plan’s centerpiece is a multi-story “sky garden” climber in the Museum’s Atrium that will merge physical activity with environmental learning.

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

Building upon the success of the Museum’s Fathers at Play and Parents at Play initiatives, Port Discovery also introduced the launch of the At Play Early Learning Institute. The Institute will be a resource to strengthen the state’s early childhood workforce and provide educators and care providers throughout the state with the opportunity to strengthen their practice and play engagement in an immersive museum setting.

The institute will offer training, workshops, and service hours for the early education workforce and serve as an internship and practicum site for early childhood degree and certificate students. It will also provide professional workshops and trainings focused on the science of play within educational practice, continue ongoing research partnerships with local universities, and host seminars and lecture series focusing on the science of play.

Initial development activities of the At Play Early Learning Institute will include several focus groups that bring together early childhood thought leaders and institutions of higher education that prepare early childhood educators, practitioners, and parents. Input from these gatherings will be synthesized to conceptualize the internship, practicum, and training components that will make up the At Play Early Learning Institute’s offerings.

“The At Play Early Learning Institute positions Port Discovery as a vital community resource, strengthening our partnerships with higher learning institutions while supporting daycare providers and those who provide homeschool experiences offering an enriching environment that complements their efforts in early childhood development,” added Rasmussen.

Port Discovery closed the event by welcoming its inaugural members of its Discovery Crew. This dynamic group of young ambassadors, ages 5 to 11, will offer their insights on museum exhibits and participate in special events and outreach campaigns over the year. Their involvement exemplifies the museum’s commitment to empowering the voices of children and reinforcing the significance of play in learning and development.

“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 Carter Arnot Polakoff, Port Discovery’s President and CEO. “We are dedicated to uplifting both young children and the adults in their lives, significantly contributing to family and community wellbeing. By valuing the voices of children in our decision-making, we ensure our museum remains a dynamic, inclusive, and engaging space for all families.”

25th anniversary celebrations will unfold throughout 2024 with thematic educational weekends, outreach campaigns, and special events. Highlights include the Museum’s annual fundraising gala, Play it Forward on April 12, and a free Community Birthday Bash on June 2.

“Children’s museums play a unique role in character development through intentional and meaningful programming and exhibits and safe, supportive environments,” said Arthur Affleck, Executive Director of the Association of Children’s Museums, in a special message he recorded congratulating Port Discovery on its anniversary. “Port Discovery has been that safe constant for the Baltimore City community, schools, parents, and of course the children for 25 years.”

For more details on Port Discovery’s 25th anniversary, please visit  www.portdiscovery.org/25anniversary/. Digital assets are available here. 

Media Contacts:

Sara Warfield

Sophie Shippe

About Port Discovery Children’s Museum

The mission of Port Discovery Children’s Museum is to provide unique opportunities and high-quality experiences that make play accessible, educational, and fun for all. Since 1998, Port Discovery has served over 5 million visitors as one of the Mid-Atlantic’s leading children’s museums. Our core programming includes exhibits and creative activities in our 80,000–square-foot museum, access programs for students and low-income families, educational programs and workshops for local school districts, and two generational programming for parents and early childhood educators. We believe in a world where the value of learning through play is recognized and respected, backed by the science that demonstrates the power of play to transform the lives of children and their families.