Discovery Museum to close Friday

The Winchester museum will reopen in its new building this spring

By Josette Keelor

Friday will be the last day the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum at 54 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, will open its doors to the community.

Offering free admission for its final three hours on Final Friday, the museum plans to close for longer than a month in anticipation of the move to its new location at 19 W. Cork St.

An opening date at the new location has not been decided yet, delayed because of bad weather this winter. Chris Delaughter, marketing and advancement coordinator at the museum, said construction at the new location is still underway, but as soon as it’s complete, museum staff will begin moving exhibits.

“We’re hoping for mid- to late April, but at this point we’re just saying spring,” she said.

The museum will be open for regular hours from 9 to 5 p.m. today and Friday, with free admission from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday. Starting next week, staff will begin packing up supplies and exhibits to get them ready to move as well as start construction on new exhibits.

The new museum, an almost 20,000-square-foot space on four floors, compared to the nearly 500 square feet of the current location, will include exhibits like a vertical climbing maze, built on the wall and continuing around a corner onto another wall. A watershed exhibit with an erosion table will allow a splash and play area, and a real but retired ambulance will invite curious children to explore a firefighter’s world.

Summer programs will be listed on the museum’s website in coming weeks, and a discovery studio has invited community members to apply as artisans in residence for three-month increments. Those interested in applying should visit the museum’s website at discoverymuseum.net.

Though new, the museum has plenty of room for some old favorites.

“Yes, a much-xpanded apple packing shed will be in the new museum,” Delaughter said.

Currently the museum employs seven full-time, part-time and contract staff, but the new museum will include the opportunity for an eighth, a visitor’s services representative position Delaughter said is already posted.

Admission to the new museum will be $8 instead of $6. A membership pass for $150 a year will allow unlimited access during operating hours not only to the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum but also free or discounted admission to more than 250 other museums in the U.S. and Canada participating in the Association of Children’s Museums.

In Virginia, Delaughter said, this includes the Children’s Museum of Richmond, the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth and the Virginia Discovery Museum in Charlottesville.

Membership to the museum also will include discounts on parties, camps and merchandise in the museum store.

“It’s such a fulfilling opportunity for so many people in this community that have been a part of this museum for over 18 years,” she said. The museum has continued to develop since then, and she said being able to expand to offer more “is just truly the fulfillment of a dream.”

For more information, call the museum at 540-722-2020 or visit discoverymuseum.net.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com