Optimism and Community: These have been the words in my heart as the Museum closed the 2023 fiscal year. The past twelve months have shown, to me, the critical value that a children’s museum can bring to a city – as a venue for joy and learning for children and their families; a resource for parents, caregivers, and teachers; and a community anchor for the well-being of our region. I am so proud of the work of the Museum team, from our front-line Play Experts to our Board of Directors, and I am excited to share a few highlights:
- After an admittedly slow start in the fall, school field trip bookings EXPLODED in winter and spring 2023. Port Discovery hosted over 23,000 students and their teachers on an Explor-A-Tour, which connects science, engineering, art, and history to hands-on activities and Museum exhibits.
- We welcomed over 13,000 children and caregivers through the PlayMakers access program, which provides reduced admission of $3 per person to Maryland families who present an EBT/Independence Card or WIC ID card, available any day the Museum is open to the general public – a 75% increase from last year’s visitorship!
- We expanded our Two Generations at Play programs across the region, establishing new partnerships in Howard and Montgomery Counties, to serve nearly 300 low-income parents/caregivers and their children with parenting workshops and resources to learn bonding strategies, purposeful play approaches, network, and build support systems.
- We renewed our commitment to families with special needs and disabilities with the launch of monthly Sensory Friendly Hours, dedicated staff training, and partnerships with regional children’s hospitals to provide free admission for young patients.
Lastly, I am especially pleased to share that Port Discovery was featured in the New York Times in April about the important role children’s museums play in childhood development and learning. The article,”Children’s Museums Are Growing Intellectually and Emotionally” (April 27, 2023), highlights. groundbreaking programs from around the country, with a focus on Port Discovery’s very own social-emotional learning program, Ted-Dy Talks.
This is just taste of our accomplishments for the year! I invite you to review this blueprint of our successes in FY2023, so much of which could not have happened without the essential support of our advocates, champions, and allies who are listed in this report.
Carter Arnot Polakoff
President and CEO