Discovery Museum includes expanded favorites, new additions

By Ryan Cornell

WINCHESTER — The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester has all the familiar favorites of its old location as well as a plethora of never-before-seen exhibits.

Its new location at 19 W. Cork St. is scheduled to open this spring and includes nearly 20,000 square feet on three floors and a rooftop “Sky Level.”

The loads of additional space — the museum previously laid claim to 4,600 square feet on one level — has allowed for more energy and opportunities, according to Marketing and Advancement Director Chris Delaughter.

“It was definitely full,” she said about the museum’s former building, which closed last month. “It was challenging to switch out exhibits, there was so much in there.”

She said the apple packing shed, one exhibit most people remember from the museum, is now more than three times its original size.

Just inside the entrance of the museum, visitors are greeted by a 20-foot-long Rube Goldberg machine on the wall.

A short walk into the building transports them millions of years into the past where they’ll come face to face with the 21-foot-long replica of a triceratops skeleton, weighing in at 4,100 pounds. The area, referred to as “Paleontology Park,” will also have excavation tables where kids can dig through sand and discover fossils.

Nearby, an ambulance donated from Valley Health spends its retirement parked in the corner, ready for kids to sit behind the controls and explore the cabin. Kids also can do some exploring of the digestive system through a vertical maze on the wall that simulates the human body’s alimentary canal.

A set of water erosion tables on the second floor simulates the Potomac watershed and lets kids splash around. One popular exhibit being brought back will let kids design their own roller coasters and test them out using a rubber ball.

A discovery studio on the third floor can be used for three months at a time for resident artists in painting, sculpting, metal fabricating, singing and storytelling, Delaughter said, while museum guests make their own forms of art across the room. She said a life-sized Native American longhouse will be reassembled on the third floor and can be used for overnight sleepovers by special groups.

Once it gets warmer, the rooftop will house gardens and beds for a variety of vegetables, plants and flowers. An elevator in the museum goes to each floor, including the roof.

“It’s a great place for the bride and groom to cut the cake or maybe for an astronomy class on stargazing or horticulture classes,” Delaughter said.

Construction work on the building is by Howard Shockey & Sons. Delaughter said the capital campaign, which totaled $4.2 million when renovation planning started in July 2012, has about $750,000 left to raise.

She said ticket prices will be “slightly increased,” and will be $8 for visitors ages 2 and older, $150 for an annual family membership, $100 for a grandparents annual membership and $50 for a 90-day membership.

“We like to use the phrase, ‘rediscover the Discovery Museum,'” Delaughter said. “I think people will be excited to discover new elements and bring the kids back to discover it all over again.”

The museum’s operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com