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Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow

The Capital Campaign for Port Discovery

Thank you to our supporters who helped bring exciting changes to Port Discovery!

With the help of the community, we have raised the funds for the first phase of bold and transformational new exhibits, improved guest amenities and expanded programs that will continue to inspire children to dream big, imagine and learn through play.

Our new early-childhood based exhibits have become the new centerpiece of Port Discovery, bringing the children and families of Baltimore and beyond exciting new opportunities for play-based learning that fuel imaginations for generations to come.

We are so grateful for the support of our generous contributors to Phase I of The Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow Capital Campaign.

A new signature exhibit: The Port Exhibit

This massive new exhibit pays tribute to the industry that has anchored our city’s economy for 300 years.  Within our historic Fish Market location, the Port exhibit is dominated by a massive ship’s prowl, forming a play structure as unforgettable as any in children’s museum design.  On this ship, travelers will explore the seas and bring home treasures from around the world.

A new four-story SkyClimber:

This breathtaking new climber allows children to ascend from “underwater” up “into the clouds” on a series of platforms inside seamless netting that arcs around the Port. On the ground level, there is a soft play area for toddlers and comfortable seating for caregivers.

Additional new exhibits and amenities will be introduced to Port Discovery over the next several years as part of future fundraising efforts, enabling the Museum to continue offering the most unique, innovative informal learning experiences for children from birth to ten years of age.

Future Exhibits & New Guest Amenities Include:

  • Space - An adventure into an imaginative world of extreme conditions and geologic anomalies that spark new ideas. 
  • Art - Children will plan their projects, decide what feelings, moods, statements or questions they wish to express, and then work towards exploring their own unique ways of accomplishing that expression, without limitations. 
  • Nature Exhibits - Bring some of the natural world indoors to a safe environment for children to explore, and promote in children an awareness and desire for further exploration outside, even in their own city parks and backyards.

We invite you to join with others and be a part of Baltimore’s future.  An investment in this campaign is an investment in our children. Together, we can create a Port Discovery that will benefit the next generations who will live, work, play, and raise their families in our community.

donate today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Goal of the Capital Campaign

The goal of the Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow capital campaign is to transform Port Discovery with two new state-of-the-art exhibits that will be the centerpiece of the museum: the new interactive Port Exhibit and the exciting four-story SkyClimber. Each exhibit is based on recommendations by our advisors in early childhood development, and help us to offer guests play-based learning experiences that can be found nowhere else in Baltimore or this region.

To bring these new exhibits to life, we have launched the Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow capital campaign to raise $10.5 million. 

How much funding has been contributed to date?

The campaign is supported by a broad-base of contributors including the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, corporations and professional firms, charitable foundations and generous individual donors. To date, we have raised $9.7 million toward our goal.

What new exhibits and features can we expect as part of the renovated, rejuvenated Port Discovery?

The comprehensive master plan for the future of Port Discovery includes brand new exhibits, exciting one-of-a-kind programs, improved guest amenities inside and an updating of Fish Market Building’s exterior.  

In 2019 our KidWorks exhibit will be removed and replaced to make way for two new exhibits to form the centerpiece of the museum, the new Port Exhibit and the SkyClimber.    

Future renovation plans include improvements to our guest amenities, a new Space exhibit, expanded Art Studio programming, and an exhibit to explore the wonders of the natural world.   

What current exhibits will remain a part of Port Discovery?

So many Port Discovery favorites will remain open including Wonders of Water, Tot Trails, The Oasis, Tiny’s Diner, Royal Farms, PD Presents theater, and we will continue to offer our exciting visiting exhibits!  Some of these favorite exhibits will see improvements and updates as part of the master plan.  

What will construction of new exhibits and features mean for visitors and members?

We plan to keep Port Discovery open throughout construction in 2019. All of the new exhibits will be constructed in phases, so that the museum can stay open to our guests and members during our renovations. Some operations may be limited during construction. For information on construction, visit Members are encouraged to read about exclusive Member Benefits available during construction, including membership extensions, free entry to The Construction Zone in the Atrium at Port Discovery sponsored by M&T Bank, free entry to Port Discovery's Pop-Up Play Space in the Shops at Kenilworth, and limited-time admission discounts for members to nearby family attractions including The National Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the B&O Railroad Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. 

What is the timeline for construction?

Construction of the new Port Exhibit and SkyClimber is underway as of January 2, 2019, and is expected to last for approximately four months. As with any building project, plans evolve – and, we will keep you updated throughout this project. Find information about construction and updates at

What is the timeline for opening of the new exhibits and improved amenities?

Construction is expected to take about fpur months, with the celebration of the grand opening for the first two exhibits taking place in spring 2019.  Check back for updates on grand-opening plans, and visit for updates on construction, grand-opening dates, and more! 

If the Museum closes and/or operations are limited, how will Memberships be impacted?

Please be assured, our members will continue to receive the value they expect and deserve as a Member of Port Discovery.  During the four months of limited operations, Port Discovery will offer members exclusive Member Benefits, including membership extensions, free entry to The Construction Zone in the Atrium at Port Discovery sponsored by M&T Bank, free entry to Port Discovery's Pop-Up Play Space in the Shops at Kenilworth, and limited-time admission discounts for members to nearby family attractions including The National Aquarium, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the B&O Railroad Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. 

How did you celebrate exhibits that are closing?

Thousands of children and families joined us over the last few months to enjoy Port Discovery, celebrate our 20th birthday, and to say goodbye to KidWorks! We also hosted a special Farewell to KidWorks event where one lucky kid won a raffle and was our last kid ever to slide down KidWorks. We also sent lots of silly things down the slide as we said farewell – from bowling balls to dinosaur heads, eggs, watermelons and more – we had a blast as we said farewell to the beloved KidWorks climber. Read and watch a recap featuring our Farewell to KidWorks celebration. 


What new programs can we look forward to once the renovations are complete?

The new Port Exhibit, in addition to being an exciting interactive exhibit, is also an ideal platform for innovative programming. We have brand new programs planned around socio-culture topics, maps and navigation, and about what jobs help make the Port work. 

How did you develop the concepts and designs for new exhibits and programs?

Along with our exhibit designers, we considered what experiences are right now the most successful at Port Discovery and which experiences are considered inter-generational “favorites” at the most highly regarded children’s museums in the field.   

We solicited feedback from staff, Board, community members, visitors, and external advisors, and mapped them against Port Discovery’s own knowledge of what works every day already.  

From this beginning we developed ten preliminary exhibit concepts, encompassing human creativity, exploration, culture, history, technology, and the natural world from the farthest reaches of space to our own backyard. Next, we invited community input and evaluation on these ten concepts in the form of focus groups and extensive exhibit concept testing.

We learned that our visitors understand and appreciate the value of learning through play and we began to see just how broad and deep the notion of imaginative, purposeful, learner-driven play could become.

We were able to refine our ideas and focus the very best thinking into the five entirely-new exhibit concepts we are broadly labeling Port, Nature, Space, Art Studio and the new Climber.

How can we stay updated on Museum renovations, construction timelines, and when a celebration of the new exhibits will occur?

Be sure to subscribe to our e-newsletter and check back on our website to receive updates on the exciting transformation taking place at Port Discovery.   


More Information

Case for Support

In the nearly two decades since we opened our doors as Baltimore’s Children’s Museum, close to five million guests have visited Port Discovery. Looking to the future, it’s now time for some changes. The new Port Discovery will reflect our commitment to offer the children of our City and region the highest quality exhibits, events, and programs. Download our Case for Support to learn more. 

Matching Gift Challenge

Port Discovery has an exciting opportunity to take our Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow Campaign to the next level, and you can help make it happen. We have received a Campaign Matching Challenge Gift that will provide $1 for every $1 contributed to the Campaign. The goal is to raise $500,000 in outright campaign gifts over the next three months. This will result in $500,000 from the Matching Gift, for a total of $1 million. Learn more about our Matching Gift Challenge.

Naming Opportunities

A variety of naming opportunities exist as part of the Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow Campaign. Learn more

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Thank you to the supporters of this important Campaign! 

Donors & Supporters of Playing Today, Leading Tomorrow Include:

  • The City of Baltimore
  • The State of Maryland 

This project has been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

This program received Federal financial assistance for preservation of historic maritime resources and for increasing public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the United States. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated again in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity National Park Service 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240

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