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Port Discovery: A Great Place for Children and Adults to Visit

In downtown Baltimore, there is a museum where children can touch the exhibits and it's not the Maryland Science Center. This place is called Port Discovery and is a building that looks like a greenhouse.

Once parents and children get inside this crazy architecture, they will walk right onto the meet and greet street that is setup like a downtown apartment complex. Children will love the kidworks exhibits that features a huge three-story treehouse or an adventure expedition exhibit on the second floor that makes children feel like they have traveled back in time to Egypt.

“Traditional museums are just a look and don't touch and the whole philosophy of a children's museum is interactive,” said Wendy Blackwell, Director of Education at Port Discovery. “When (children) come here, they enjoy that someone is not going to say don't touch it.”

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, children and adults can also enjoy the hi-flyer balloon that flies 450 feet above the museum and gives a great view of the harbor. Admission to ride balloon is $8.50 for children 3 to 12 and $12 for adults. The balloon is open at night till 8:00 pm and admission is $15. For more information, call (410) 949-2FLY.

“The Hi-Flyer is a tethered, helium filled balloon that carries up to 20 people,” said Dena Rooney, who operates the Hi-Flyer balloon. “The ride is 15 minutes long.”

The web site states, “Port Discovery is a non-profit museum that opened in 1998 in an effort to renovate Baltimore's historic FishMarket. Over 1 million people visit the museum every year and it was voted one of the top five children's museums in the U.S. by Child Magazine in 2002.”

The museum depends on charitable contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Some of these corporations include Proctor & Gamble Cosmetics, Citifinancial, and Phillips Seafood Restaurant. They also have a fund-raising drive called “All Hands on Deck” that accepts donations and tax-deductible gifts.

The museum has a variety of educational programs, such as school visit field trips and there is even an overnight program for girl scouts. One of these programs is called “Pet Faces” that is in a partnership with pets on wheels in Maryland where children get to meet the first dogs in wheel chairs. The programs are intended for children, but adults have also found these programs to be exciting as well. Port Discovery also offers an after-school program for young children called “ArtVentures” that has storytelling, dancing and music to get younger children motivated into learning.

“All of our programs really pay attention to educational outcomes,” said Nora Moynihan, Community Partnerships Coordinator at Port Discovery.

Port Discovery encourages anyone to volunteer at the museum. Right now, they have a small amount of people helping out from high school students working for their community service hours to learning disabled students who come in on selected days to help out. There are even people who volunteer to make programs that teach children about certain topics. “If there is something you would like to come and do, we can figure out a way to work with you and design a program that is really fun,” said Moynihan.

From Jan. 17 through May 12, Port Discovery will have some new exhibits from the Children's Museum of Manhattan called “Good Grief” that is a tribute to late Charles Schultz's Peanuts. They plan to have several different exhibits that make people feel like they are in the comic strip because they will be able to offer advice to Lucy's Psychiatry Booth or run through a pumpkin patch.
If you would like to visit, here is some
general information on Port Discovery.

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Transcription of Interview - Port Discovery