By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Twenty years ago, then-mayor Kurt Schmoke created a space right in downtown Baltimore where children could learn and play. Now, Port Discovery is about to get a real upgrade.

The plan is to make the space ready for future generations of boys and girls eager to explore with their minds and bodies.

“When we first opened, we had an expression. ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’ and we truly believe that today,” said Port Discovery President, Bryn Parchman.

Dreams come naturally at Port Discovery where children are given the tools to be creative, the instruments with which to experiment and solve problems, and a landscape where they can challenge themselves and interact with others.

“Children lead the way here,” said Parchman. “They play, they discover. Children that would never play otherwise play together here and they share experiences and that’s really, really important in today’s world.”

Which is why over $9.7 million has been raised to take down Kidworks and put in its place, a new four-story climber.

Work is already beginning at the marketplace location as they work to raise the rest of the $10.5 million goal, and Friday morning saw an official kick-off, Port Discovery style.

The new additions will also include and two-and-a-half-story ship where children can climb from the ocean to the clouds to learn about The Port of Baltimore.

“The new Port of Baltimore exhibit will teach children of Maryland about the Port of Baltimore,” said Adrienne Jones, Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates. “And it is our hope the exhibit will show children a future that could include a good job in their own community.”

Port Discovery is the fourth most visited arts and cultural attraction in the region, and in 20 years has had over 6 million visitors, hence the need for a little “refreshing.”

The new exhibits should be open by May.

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