Discovery Room Redo

If you’ve visited the Visitor Center here at JPPM you may know that we have a Children’s Discovery Room.  The room is just inside the main door on the right but it doesn’t get a whole lot of use. We recently began looking at why that is and started a process that we hope will draw in more people. We’ll be using this page as a space to share our work in revamping the room and hope that you follow us through this project.

Summer 2013: One of the first things we did was an assessment of the room. We asked that two of our summer contractors do this assessment since they were new and would provide a clear-eyed view of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Here are some of the things they liked:

            1.  Lots of hands on activities for kids
            2.  Dress-up clothes!
            3.  Furs

            Here are the things they thought we should change:

            1.  The room is too dark
            2.  Bland looking
            3.  All adult size furniture
            4.  Too many breakables!
            5.  Activity boxes are too heavy for little ones
            6.  Shelves are too tall!

            Clearly, we had some work to do. So we applied for a grant from the PNC Grow Up Great initiative and started to work with education consultant, Beth Maloney, to create a grand plan for this small space.

            Survey that was done.September 2013: We received the PNC grant! Thank you PNC! We started to get deeper into assessment of not only what is in the room now, but what people would like to see in the room if we changed it. We’ve had a simple evaluation out in the room for users to complete and we asked people to answer some key questions on giant boards at our 1812 event.

            Brainstorming in Discovery Room. October 2013: Beth came down to do a brainstorming meeting with staff and we spent the whole day discussing our hopes and dreams for the space. We decided that we wanted a space that would serve families but be geared toward our younger visitors (3-7 y.o.) to fill a void in our offerings. We also want to be sure that there is a point to everything offered in the room and that it connects back to our stories here at JPPM and our mission. If you want to see some of our thoughts and ideas you can check out our Pinterest page.

November 2013: We launched a crowd funding campaign this month! As wonderful as it was to receive the PNC grant, they couldn’t provide everything. We’ve received a mini grant from the Southern Maryland Heritage Areas Consortium and some additional funding from the Chaney Foundation—thank you both!!

December 9, 2013: We’ve sent out the RFP to a handful of designers suggested to us by friends/regional partners. We hope to have someone chosen by the new year. We also launched a survey to get public comment on our ideas. If you’ve looked at images of the Discovery Room or seen it in person, you know that it’s a small space. We have lots of ideas about what we could do in that space but probably can’t accommodate everything. We want to be sure that the ideas that most interest the community rise to the top.

December 19, 2013--Success! We began our crowd funding campaign 4 weeks ago and surpassed our original goal, raising a total of $2,530. Thank you to everyone who donated or helped promote the campaign!

January 2014—We’ve been extremely busy this month. Local exhibit designer, Suzanne Sheldon, has stepped forward and offered her services pro bono! We cannot thank her enough and have really enjoyed working with her so far.

Jppm maintenance staff dissassembling exhibit to make room for expansion.Our survey ended right before the holidays and some number crunching has shown that while people love the idea of a miniature wigwam in the space they are not so enamored of a reading nook. You’ve spoken and we have heard! We’ll be using the data gathered in the survey to guide or decisions during the design phase of the process. A big thank you to everyone who lent their thoughts to this process.

Our tireless maintenance staff has stepped right up in this first phase of the redo moving exhibit pieces outside of the Discovery Room that impacted what was going on inside the room. The Education staff has also completely cleared out the room in preparation for the renovation. Exciting stuff!

February 5, 2014—Have you ever done something on a whim that turned out far better than you expected? Well, that happened to FLOR Carpet for a Cause Program today. Last month we completed an application on the FLOR website. Through their Carpet for a Cause program, they have donated enough carpet tiles to resurface the whole Disco Room! We’d like to send a huge thank you to our new friends at FLOR!



Patricia Samford
Mark Thompson
Mark Freeman
Denise America
Betty Seifert
James Lowry
Maria Galban

Kathleen Plockmeyer

Sandy Atkinson
Ralph Eshelman
Julie Hall

Dana Van Abbema
Cheryl Reese

Kim Popetz
Elizabeth Maloney
Melissa Worthington Kallfelz

Celeste Furey
Kelly Palich
Anne Starkweather
Kathleen Stalzer
Carl Fleischaur
Susan Kelley
Kimberly Bradmon

James McComb

Alan Heymann
Clinton Popetz
In memory of Rachel Szech
Helen French

Carolyn Gryczkowski
Karen Merlotti
Barbara Smith-White

Chaney Enterprises logo.              

This event is made possible by the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.