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The S.S. Friend Ship Has Docked at Port Discovery

“It’s everything I dreamed of when I was a kid,” exclaims a mom when she and her two sons enter the re-imagined Port Discovery Children’s Museum.

On Friday, June 14th, Port Discovery Children's Museum welcomed back Museum Members and Guests during its official Grand Re-Opening with two new major exhibits, the SkyClimber and The Port, as well as updated guest amenities! 

The massive steel and rope SkyClimber provides the first test for children and families as they journey from Chessie’s Grotto in the first-floor waters of the Chesapeake Bay up to the clouds. For those who make it to the top, the best way back down is through the four-story “storm slide!”

Crashing through the back wall of the Museum, the life-size S.S. Friend Ship is the next stop. As guests make their way up through the S.S. Friend Ship to The Port, children have a chance to role-play as navigators, sailors, and cargo handlers while learning about the products that make the Port of Baltimore one of the world’s most active ports.

Off to the side, Port Discovery’s third floor windows provide a bird’s eye view at the Jones Fall, a waterway that once brought fishing boats right up to the east entrance of the historic Fish Market Building, now Port Discovery’s home.

“The Port of Baltimore plays a critical role in our community, economy, and lives, and that’s an important story for us to share with children and families,” said Bryn Parchman, President & CEO of Port Discovery Children’s Museum.

Much of the 20th century saw the historic Fish Market as a bustling open-air space for local fisherman and merchants to buy and sell commodities that came in on ships from the Chesapeake Bay.

There is no question in Bryn’s mind, however, about the building’s current role: “We think it’s at its highest and best purpose as a children’s museum.”

Child Pointing at Port Exhibit

The new centerpiece of Port Discovery Children’s Museum is a three-story, life-sized cargo ship!

Through The Port exhibit, children learn that though it’s a big world, we are all connected in some way through the Port of Baltimore.

Girl inside Port Exhibit Engine RoomChildren Loading Cargo onto Cranes

Fun Fact: Authentic Ship Captain’s Wheel

Many of the components of S.S. Friend Ship are authentic, just like you’d see in a real ship. One extra special feature of The Port is an authentic ship captains’ wheel salvaged from a WWII Liberty Ship. The wheel was donated by John Timmins of the Maryland Port Administration in memory of his father and uncle Capt. William Timmins and 1st Lieutenant James Timmins. Today, there are only two working Liberty Ships left in the world, one of which is docked in Canton, Baltimore.


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

The Project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, Project contents or opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

Maryland Heritage Areas AuthorityNational Park Service - National Maritime Heritage Program

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