The Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, encourages kids to “Play with a Purpose.” Permanent exhibits at the museum focus on children ages 10 and under as well as their families and care givers. Exhibits include the Baltimore Gas & Electric Studio Workshop, where every child is an artist. In this hands-on exhibit for children 2 and older, the programming changes three times per year.

In Kick It Up children can play not only soccer, but also interactive games involving snowboarding, surfing, dancing, and balance challenges in an arena designed to look like an indoor soccer stadium, complete with electronic scoreboards. Miss Perception’s Mystery House is a problem-solving and literacy game that challenges kids ages 6 and older to solve a mystery using their detective skills. The Oasis is a quiet time room where families can rest, read a book, or solve puzzles. The Oasis also offers singing and story time for children 6 years of age and under. In the Royal Farms Convenience Store and Fill’er Up Station children can pretend to be either the customer or the employee of a small convenience store. The exhibit teaches kids about the USDA food pyramid and making healthy food choices. Kid Works is a climbing zone for children 5 and older. The three-story treehouse offers a rope bridge and areas for jumping, climbing, and sliding. Adventure Expeditions for children aged 7 and older takes visitors on a tour of 1920s Egypt in an exhibit full of physical challenges and problem solving. Children work to solve a puzzle that leads them to a pharaoh’s tomb. Each exhibit emphasizes play, which studies have shown is critical in early human development. Play is crucial in the development of critical thinking skills, problem solving, risk assessment, and emotional and physical well-being. The museum centers on engaging children in playful learning.

History: The Baltimore Children’s Museum was originally a city-funded museum housed in a historical home in the Cloisters. From 1976 through the early 1990s, the city operated the property and the museum. In 1990, the museum formed its own nonprofit organization and merged with the Maryland Children’s Museum. The newly merged board of directors realized the importance of an inner harbor presence to serve a more diverse and larger population. After a $35 million campaign, the new Port Discovery museum opened in 1998. The museum consists of 80,000 square feet of exhibition space in the historic downtown Fish Market building. The building has since become an anchor for a newly revitalized area of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In 2009, the museum was awarded special recognition for their work in serving children with special needs. In 2012, Port Discovery was named one of the top 12 children’s museums in the United States by Forbes Magazine. In 2015, Parents Magazine added it to their top 5. The museum serves over 265,000 guests annually.

Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum offers a wide variety of programming to accompany each of the permanent exhibits. Programming is available for school groups, social and civic groups, and children with special needs. Community programs include Discovery Days, dates in which the museum is dedicated to children with disabilities. Countdown to Kindergarten helps prepare children with early reading skills and prepares their parents with information and resources. STEM programming supplements children’s science, math, and technology curriculums with interactive, hands-on activities.

Wonderful Wednesdays is a program dedicated to developing the early learning skills of children aged 6 and under. Wonderful Wednesday programs include hands-on percussion workshops, Mother Goose-themed literacy programs, and music programs for toddlers and babies. Scooter Mania offers young children the opportunity to work on balance, motor control, and cognitive development. The Little Teddies teddy bear picnic is a special day for children aged 5 and under to bring their teddy bears and listen to music and storytelling and participate in games. Sensational Saturdays offers a variety of family programming at each of the exhibits. The museum is popular with groups for birthday parties, private party rentals, and overnight adventures for groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other youth groups.

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Past and Future Exhibits: Traveling exhibits include the Klutz Amazingly Immature! Exhibit. This exhibit teaches children about science through fun games, play, and activities. Laughter, science, and math come together in this exhibit based on the popular Klutz Encyclopedia of Immaturity Volumes 1 and 2. For example, children learn about aerodynamics and inertia by turning spoons into catapults.

35 Market Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202, Phone: 410-727-8120

Back to: Baltimore, Maryland

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