Discovery museum

Discovery Museum bounces back with plans for new exhibit | Winchester Star

WINCHESTER – After a two-year period in which the COVID-19 pandemic threatened not only its day-to-day operations, but its very existence, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum has rebounded with new staff members and plans for a new exhibit permed.

“We are so thrilled,” Dawn Devine, executive director of the children’s museum at 19 W. Cork St. in Winchester, said Friday.

The new interactive exhibit, which will take up approximately half of the first floor of the museum and be the largest exhibit project undertaken since the association moved to its current location in 2014, will allow children and their parents to learn more about construction trades. For example, Devine said kids can explore masonry by building a wall with toy bricks, plumbing by connecting PVC pipes to a bathroom sink, carpentry by learning how to assemble the interior framing of a home and more.

“It will integrate residential, commercial, HVAC, electrical, architectural and design work,” Devine said. “We will have a small clock where the children can go in and out ca-piece to check in, and they’ll put on their little helmets and their little vests.”

The highlight, if all goes as planned, would be a real bucket loader that would stand in the center of the screen for kids to explore, Devine said.

Museum officials believe the new exhibit could inspire more people to seek employment in the construction industry. Children may realize this is what they want to do in life as they grow up, and the adult tutors who accompany them to the museum may be inspired to change careers.

“Right now the trades are desperate for people,” Devine said.

Most of the construction exhibit will be built offsite over the next five to six months by vocational and technical students from the Emil and Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center in Winchester, the Dowell J. Howard Center in County Frederick and Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown.

“We hire people who are new to the trades,” Devine said.

The individual pieces will then be delivered to the Discovery Museum around Labor Day in September, and the museum will close for about a week to rearrange its current displays on the first floor and install the new exhibit.

To help pay for the exhibit, the museum is seeking corporate sponsors with ties to the construction industry. Companies interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities should contact Director of Development and Marketing Tammy Stevenson at 540-722-2020 or [email protected]

Devine said the Discovery Museum is making a strong comeback after the two-year pandemic reduced its hours of operation and reduced its revenue, a situation that left her and Stevenson as the only staff members at full-time. Today the museum is back to five full-time staff – the newest additions are Education and Learning Specialist Alisha McCann, Education Site Manager Madelynn Whited and Facilities Manager and John Ratliff exhibits – and is gearing up for the return of its popular summer camp programs later this year.

Fundraising continues to be of paramount importance to the future of the museum, so Devine is hoping for a strong turnout at next month’s Discovery 5K and Kids Fun Run at Millbrook High School, 251 First Woods Drive near Winchester . For registration information, visit the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum website at