Port Discovery Children’s Museum, ranked among the top children’s museums in the country and one of the leading non-traditional educational resources in the Mid-Atlantic region, offers three floors of interactive exhibitions and programs for children ages Birth through 10 years old.
Port Discovery Overview
Our Mission & Who We Serve
As the premier children’s museum in the mid-Atlantic, Port Discovery Children’s Museum educates and inspires children through purposeful play.
Our educational, interactive exhibits and programs develop cognitive and life skills that open the door for children to successfully express what they know and to discover and explore the world around them.
Port Discovery serves Infants through children 10 years old and their families, educators, and caregivers.
What Children Learn
Every experience empowers children and adults to learn about themselves, to build connections, and to learn about their community and the world around them.
Hands-On Exhibits & Learning Environments
Port Discovery features three floors of hands-on, interactive exhibits that encourage children and the adults in their lives to play, learn and engage with one another. While children use their imaginations, ask questions, and explore how things work, they are learning, developing, and figuring out how the world works.
Port Discovery’s Learning Areas Include:
- A four-story SkyClimber and spiral Storm Slide that challenges children to build confidence.
- A massive Port exhibit that encourages collaboration, and that teaches visitors about the Port of Baltimore – and the many jobs and products that makeup one of the world’s most active ports!
- Tiny’s Diner, a 50’s-style diner where pretend play rules supreme. Here, little learners play together and prepare pretend meals (and creative bills) for their friends and adults.
- An interactive Art Studio that puts real art making in the hands of children and adults through activities including painting, sculpting, and more.
- Wonders of Water, a water-themed exhibit featuring a Stream Table, Bubble Hoop, Water Chimes, and a Plumbers Park area where you can build your own fountain.
- Tot Trails, an exhibit especially designed for our youngest learners, featuring areas and activities where infants and toddlers can develop motor skills, balance, coordination, problem-solving skills, and more.
- An immersive Adventure Expeditions exhibit, where guests travel back in time to 1920s ancient Egypt and explore the pharaoh’s lost tomb while learning about the unique history of the Egypt civilization.
- Kick It Up, a unique indoor stadium designed for multiple games and sports.
A pretend Convenience Store and Fill’er Up Station Stop where little ones can pretend to grocery shop! As children play, they’ll take turns as the customer, cashier, stocker, and more. They’ll also explore and learn about food groups plus take turns filling up the VW Beetle with gas and air!
- Chessie’s Grotto, a toddler-focused soft play area where children can explore textures and tactile experiences, read books about the ocean and sea creatures, and enjoy a small slide designed for our youngest visitors.
Our Initiatives Include
Providing Access for All
Port Discovery is committed to being an accessible museum for all. We eliminate financial barriers by providing free and reduced admission and enrollment to Maryland school students, low-income families, and military families through our Access Programs such as PlayMakers. $2 Community Days, and Salute the Troops. Additionally, access includes training staff and improving facility capacity to serve families with specific disabilities and educational needs.
Learning and Discovery Programs
These programs are the core of Port Discovery’s work. Learning and Discovery Programs include arts- and science-based workshops, nature-based learning opportunities, engagement through the arts, and virtual programs that invite children into a range of learning portals from Maryland’s historic lighthouses to the life of a bumble bee. The Museum’s learning and discovery programs take place on site, within school classrooms, at libraries and community partners, and online. Additional support allows us to increase the number of Title I schools (and organizations serving Title I schools) that we are able to serve with focused programming for free or significantly reduced costs.
This suite of programs provides resources to those who hold the most important role in the healthy development and well-being of Maryland young children—parents, caregivers, and educators. The Museum is focusing on scaling a suite of new and enhanced programs that include Fathers at Play and Parents at Play, both of which empower parents through purposeful play strategies and peer learning; and Professionals At Play, which supports our early childhood workforce across various settings and throughout the state.
Port Discovery is recognized as one of the top Children’s Museums in the United States, and one of the top children’s attractions in the Baltimore Region. Recent accolades include being named a Top Children’s Museum by Mommy Poppins and Best Indoor Activity by Baltimore’s Child.
On average, Port Discovery serves 270,000 guests annually through on-site visitation and community outreach.
- 28% from Baltimore City
- 46% from MD counties outside of Baltimore City
- 26% from outside the state of Maryland
Governance & Leadership:
Port Discovery is a non-profit institution with a board of directors. The Museum is led by Carter Arnot Polakoff, President & CEO and Dennis Rasmussen, Board Chair.
Port Discovery opened in 1998 in Baltimore’s Historic 1906 Fish Market building.
Port Discovery is an 80,000 square foot facility that offers three-floors of interactive exhibits, and is conveniently located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
The original Baltimore Children’s Museum was a Baltimore City agency founded in 1976 and was housed in the Cloisters. The Museum relocated to its current location in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1998, placing the Museum in a location that was more readily accessible to visitors.