Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Happenings: Creating One Final Memory for 2013

By Matt Berman

The holiday season is coming to a close at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and it's been a packed month! Here's the fifth and final part of our Holiday Happenings blog series, which will usher us in to the new year with a look at VDM's participation in this year's First Night Virginia celebration.

Another year is nearly in the books, but before we bid adieu to 2013 and ring in the awaiting 2014, join the Virginia Discovery Museum in celebrating the year that was during Charlottesville's 32nd annual First Night Virginia on Dec. 31.

This Tuesday only, the museum is extending its hours of operation to 8:30 p.m. to stay up late for the festivities! From 3 to 7:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, the museum will transform into the Creation Station, where First Night Virginia participants can engage their imaginations in a series of unique crafts that can then be worn during the evening's processional on the Downtown Mall.

Started in 1982, First Night Virginia is the Charlottesville community's annual family-friendly celebration of the arts and is the second oldest event of its kind in the country. Entertainment and activities include musical performances, magic shows, comedy skits, and more.

If You're Going ...

  • Admission: First Night Virginia wristbands provide access to all events on the Downtown Mall. Wristbands can be purchased at the Discovery Museum, as well as at several other locations around town or online until Dec. 30. On Dec. 31, wristbands can only be purchased at the First Night Virginia headquarters in the Omni Hotel Atrium and Paramount Theater.

  • Cost: Until Dec. 30, wristbands are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 15. A Family Pack of two adult wristbands and two child wristbands costs $35. On Dec. 31, prices increase to $18 for adults, $7 for children, and $43 for the Family Pack. Children 5 and younger get in free because they're just so darn adorable.

The Discovery Museum will also be open to non-First Night Virginia visitors for regular play time during Tuesday's extended hours. VDM admission is $6 per person for adults and children over 1. Children younger than 1 get into the museum for free. Visitors who show their AAA or AARP card or a valid military ID receive a $.50 discount per person. VDM is a member of the ASTC Passport and ACM reciprocal programs, as well.

On behalf of the Virginia Discovery Museum staff, enjoy the rest of the holiday season and have a happy New Year!

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Happenings: Christmas Closings

By Matt Berman

The holiday season is in full swing at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and there's so much going on! To help you keep track of it all, here's part four of a five-part blog series called Holiday Happenings, which will detail some of the major events taking place at the museum through January 1.

Even during this season of mirth and merriment, there are still those downer topics that manage to make their way into our discourse: That ugly Christmas sweater you received last year. That fruitcake that's been re-gifted again and again. Working during the holidays.

Ugh. There goes my holiday cheer.

In the same vein, nobody wants to hear about their favorite local nonprofit children's museum (wink, wink) shutting down for Christmas. But like that fruitcake, it's something that needs to be addressed. (Seriously, just throw it away. Or use it as a door stop.)

So ... bad news, good news.

First, the bad: The Virginia Discovery Museum will be closed this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. We hope you enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your friends and families as our staff spends time with our own. There will be no drop-in programs this week, and they will not resume until the new year.

The good news? We're only closed those two days! We're open today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so if you're not busy traveling for the holidays, stop by to see us for some pre-Christmas play time. After the two-day hiatus, we'll resume regular business hours on Thursday.

From all of us at the Virginia Discovery Museum, we wish you safe travels and a very merry Christmas! We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Looking Ahead: Check back on Sunday when our Destination: Discovery blog wraps up the Holiday Happenings series and takes a look at VDM's participation in First Night Virginia.

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Happenings: Santa Claus Came to Town!

Posted by Matt Berman

The holiday season is in full swing at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and there's so much going on! To help you keep track of it all, here's part three of a five-part blog series called Holiday Happenings, which will detail some of the major events taking place at the museum through January 1.

One of our little guests was decked out in his Sunday finest -- a bow tie and sports coat
-- to see Santa. After he and his family enjoyed breakfast at their table in our log cabin
exhibit, the little gentleman had the opportunity to meet St. Nick face-to-face.
(Photos submitted by VDM member)

Santa Claus is coming to town, or so the popular Christmas tune goes. But for more than 20 families, the cheerful chum's visit came a little earlier than expected. The festive fellow in red stopped by the Virginia Discovery Museum's inaugural Santa Pancake Breakfast on Sunday morning to visit all of the tiny attendees as he passed through Charlottesville to make final checks on his Naughty or Nice list.

As families arrived to the event -- which saw a turnout of nearly 65 people -- they were seated at their own private tables throughout the museum and perused personalized menus of food, which included choices of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and apple slices. While waiting for breakfast to be served, guests also enjoyed an array of hot and cold beverages like hot chocolate, apple cider, milk, and orange juice (as well as coffee and mimosas for the adults!).

As tasty as the morning meal was, though, nothing could compare to the excitement over the guest of honor's arrival once the plates had been cleared. Peering over and around their chairs -- some even standing on their tip-toes -- kids throughout the museum craned their necks to catch a peek of St. Nick as he stopped at every table and spent several minutes chatting with each family one-on-one.

Counting the tables that remained until his turn with the jolly old elf -- "First he will visit that one, then he'll visit that one ..." -- one little boy could no longer contain his excitement over Santa's impending arrival at his seat.

"... and then he's coming HERE!" the boy exclaimed, emphatically slamming his fist down on the table and sending the chocolate sprinkles he had used to decorate his pancakes flying in every direction.

Thank you to all who joined us Sunday morning for such a fun, friendly (and unabashedly enthusiastic!) holiday meal. We look forward to continuing our Santa Pancake Breakfast next year, and hope you'll join us again!

Later this week: Check back on Friday for part four of our Holiday Happenings series, which will take a look at VDM's hours and closings next week.

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Happenings: Give the Gift of Membership

Posted by Matt Berman

The holiday season is in full swing at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and there's so much going on! To help you keep track of it all, here's part two of a five-part blog series called Holiday Happenings, which will detail some of the major things taking place at the museum through January 1.

About 50 people attended the adults-only Holidays at the Museum party on Dec. 11.
Guests enjoyed tasting a variety of apples from Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet.

This past week has been a wild roller coaster of weather. Overcast skies. Flurries. Freezing rain. A wintry mix. Snow. More rain. Sunshine.

But there's been one constant throughout: It's been cold!

Despite the near-freezing temperatures last night, though, about 50 guests ventured out to the Virginia Discovery Museum's adults-only Holidays at the Museum party to warm up at our hot chocolate and cider bar, enjoy an apple tasting by Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet, nibble on fare catered by Bashir's Taverna of Charlottesville, and learn new ways they can support the museum's continued mission to provide a safe and fun environment for children in the community to explore, create, and grow. The museum would like to extend special thanks to all of the event's sponsors, including Charlottesville Parking Center and BAKED by Kathy, for helping to make the evening a success.

If you weren't able to make it out for the festivities, there are still many ways for you to partner with VDM during the holiday season:

  • Participate in one of the museum's holiday giving campaigns:
    We discussed our Giving Tree campaign on the Destination: Discovery blog last week. This week, I'd like to introduce you to another campaign VDM just unveiled: Give the Gift of Membership!

    This year, give the gift of a VDM membership or admission to a family on your list. Each ornament on the Membership Giving Tree in our front window lists one of our three levels of membership or a specific monetary admission value. Simply take an ornament from the tree with the value you'd like to give and see the front desk attendant.

    If you are giving the membership or admission to a specific family, you will receive a gift certificate for the amount paid to pass along. However, donors also have the option of specifying that their donations go toward supporting VDM's free admission program. This program funds admittance for more than 20 local nonprofit groups and their constituents, allowing VDM to remain accessible to everyone in the community.

    For the month of December, each person who gives the gift of membership or free admission will have his or her name printed on an ornament to help decorate the Membership Giving Tree in the front window.

  • Check out our wish lists online:
    From technology upgrades to new exhibit pieces to supplies the museum uses on a daily basis, VDM is always trying to improve the quality of the experience our museum provides to visitors. Large or small, these gifts are vital to our mission. If you have specific questions about any of the items on our wish lists, email VDM Executive Director Amy Wicks-Horn at

  • Make a one-time donation:
    It's quick and easy to make a monetary contribution to the museum online using a credit card or PayPal account. You can also make a donation over the phone using a credit card or stop by the museum in person and speak to the attendant at the front desk.

The Virginia Discovery Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all contributions are tax deductible. We appreciate your support and wish you a happy, healthy holiday season!

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Happenings: The Giving Tree

Posted by Matt Berman

The holiday season is in full swing at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and there's so much going on! To help you keep track of it all, we're rolling out a five-part blog series called Holiday Happenings, which will detail some of the major things taking place at the museum through January 1.

The Virginia Discovery Museum Giving Tree is located in the museum lobby, near the
entrance. Partner with the museum in giving the gift of creativity and imagination this
holiday season by taking an ornament and committing to donating the supplies listed on it.

The giving season kicked off this past Tuesday as part of the second annual #GivingTuesday, a growing movement to create a national day of giving following the Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping weekend. Consider giving back to your community this year by investing in Charlottesville's only nonprofit children's museum and help us continue our mission to provide a fun, safe environment for children to explore, create, and grow!

Now that all of the museum's angels through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program have been claimed, we've adorned the Christmas tree in our lobby with a new giving campaign: the Virginia Discovery Museum Giving Tree. Each ornament on the tree lists supplies the museum needs for its exhibits, educational programs, and special events.

Giving Tree Ornaments
  • Dollhouse and/or Dolls (any kind): One of our oldest exhibits -- and a visitor favorite -- needs a makeover! Help us with a major remodeling of our dollhouse.
  • Trains: Our Back Gallery train tables, one of our most popular exhibits, could always use new parts and accessories.
  • Stuffed Animals (all kinds): We encourage imaginative play, and what better way to facilitate that than keeping various stuffed critters around the museum for our young visitors to befriend?
  • Craft Supplies: We try to keep our Open Studio, weekly drop-in programs, and special events stocked full of fun goodies so that our young visitors can make whatever their imaginations allow. Here are the supplies we need:
    • Washable Paint
    • Washable Ink Pads
    • Stamps
    • Glue
    • Markers
    • Face Paints
    • Construction Paper
    • Ribbon and Lace
    • Buttons, Beads, and Sequins
    • Glitter
  • Children's Books (all kinds): We strive to make the museum an educational and fun place for children and parents alike. A lot of our visitors enjoy reading with their young ones in our Tree House room, and we use books in several of our weekly and monthly programs.

If you, or someone you know, has something they'd like to donate, please take the corresponding ornament from our Giving Tree to hang on your own tree at home as a reminder of your gift. Please return all donations to the museum by January 1. Giving Tree donations are tax-deductible, so be sure to ask for a receipt after dropping off your gift.

Thank you for partnering with us in giving the gift of creativity and imagination this holiday season! Happy holidays!

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Little Holiday Cheer from Groupon

Posted by Matt Berman

A young visitor takes a break from her craft in our Open Studio, which has all the materials
your little one needs to create an adorable holiday greeting card for friends and family.

Have you heard? No, not the jingling of silver bells, the roasting of chestnuts on an open fire, or the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" of some jolly old elf; I'm talking about the Virginia Discovery Museum offer on Groupon!

That's right: Now you can travel back to the past in our 18th-century log cabin, observe the encased cutaway hive of a real bee colony, serve up tasty treats in our pint-sized Panera restaurant, and more ... all for an incredible value!

There are two money-saving admission packages to choose from: 

  • Buy four individual one-day passes for $12 (a $24 value)
    This is the perfect option for a family day outing! Come early, take a break to enjoy lunch and shopping on the Downtown Mall, then stop back by the museum for some more play time to wrap things up -- admission is good all day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.! 
  • Buy 10 individual one-day passes for $30 (a $60 value)
    The more, the merrier! Plan a play-date and bring your friends with you, or just take advantage of an extra visit or two for you and your family.

Already have a membership with the museum? Pass along the holiday cheer! This is a wonderful opportunity for first-time visitors to learn about the museum, and both deals make great holiday gift ideas for the friends and family members in your life with young children.

The offers will only be around for a limited time, so don't miss out! Follow this link to learn more or to purchase:

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or
Where's the Planner? For those who might be wondering about the new weekly Planner feature, it will return tomorrow morning with everything you need to know about what's happening at the museum this week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Season's Sweetness

Posted by Matt Berman

Check out our Holiday Houses display in the Virginia Discovery Museum lobby,
complete with gummy bear Santa, marshmallow snowman, and sugar cone
evergreens. Kudos to Kaitlin Clear, VDM education manager, for the sweet design.

I don't recall any particular memory growing up of decorating a gingerbread house, which is odd to me because decorating a gingerbread house seems like such a quintessential Christmas-y activity. In fact, it's a holiday tradition that can be traced back for centuries.

I can only imagine my childhood lack of confectionary construction experience stemmed from my parents' unfounded fear that I'd turn into some kind of sugar-obsessed Hansel and Gretel clone if presented with a candy-coated winter wonderland. Well, maybe that fear wasn't completely unfounded; just this past Tuesday, I was banned from the kitchen during prep for the Virginia Discovery Museum's upcoming Holiday Houses event because I kept snacking on all the building materials. And I'm currently 27.

What can I say? My resolve is no match for M&M's and gummy bears.

With the first two of the museum's four Holiday Houses sessions set to start next week, there's still time to reserve your spot for this event, so come celebrate the sweetness of the season with us! Each child who registers with an accompanying adult gets their own pre-assembled graham-cracker house to decorate with a variety of goodies, including peppermints, Skittles, Life Savers Gummies, marshmallows, Dots, Hershey's Kisses, and more.

This event is for children 4 and older, with an adult.

  • Sessions:
    • Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m.
    • Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.
    • Saturday, Dec. 14 at 10:30 a.m.
    • Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2 p.m.
  • Cost:
    • Members: $8 per person, children and adults
    • Non-members: $10 per person, children and adults

Space is limited, so register in person at the museum or call (434) 977-1025. If you have any questions, call or email Kaitlin Clear, VDM education manager, at

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Planner: Holiday Happenings

I'd like to introduce you to a new weekly feature we're trying out here at Destination: Discovery called the "Planner." Starting today and continuing on Sundays after that, the Planner will provide a detailed rundown of what's happening at the museum each week and offer a quick preview of any special events taking place that month. If you forget to check the blog on Sunday, though, don't worry -- I'll also provide a link to the Planner from our Facebook page and our Twitter account that morning.


Closed Wednesday and Thursday

With the holiday season about to get into full swing, this particular edition of the Planner isn't going to be nearly as stuffed as your Thanksgiving turkey. The museum will be closed all day Wednesday and Thursday, so that means no Toddler Time, Tidal Wave Thursdays, or Science Club this week.

Open Friday and Saturday

We'll be open again Friday at 10 a.m., so after you're finished bagging all those Black Friday deals, stop by the museum for a chance to play and unwind from the shopping shenanigans.

Our 50 Nifty United States drop-in program will be back from its two-week hiatus and will hit the road for Massachusetts, where Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball in 1891. Visitors will get a chance to show off their shooting skills on our miniature court as they learn how points are scored. The drop-in, which is geared toward children 4 and older, meets at 4 p.m. in the program room and is free with admission.

Can't make it Friday? After a week of friends, family, and holiday cheer, it's understandable you need a break, so get out of the house on Saturday, come to the downtown mall, and use the afternoon to relax and recover at the museum. And the best part is that you don't have to worry about cleaning up another mess; that's on us!

Looking Ahead

As we get ready to turn the corner into December, here are a couple upcoming events to keep in mind:

Holiday Houses
With a little over a week left until the first session, registration is in full-swing for this annual event. Come celebrate the sweetness of the season by decorating your very own graham-cracker house with an assortment of goodies to create a candy-coated winter wonderland! The event is for children 4 and older, with an adult.
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 7 & 14
  • Time: 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day
  • Cost: $8 per person (members); $10 per person (non-members)
Space is limited, so register today by calling (434) 977-1025. If you have any questions, call or email

Santa Pancake Breakfast
You'll flip for these delicious pancakes, which will be catered by a special guest chef! Plus, Santa is making a special trip from the North Pole with Rudolph in order to attend the event as he works on checking his list ahead of the holidays. Each family will enjoy their own table, as well as a private meeting with the jolly old elf!
  • When: Sunday, Dec. 15
  • Time: 10 a.m. seating
  • Cost: $10 per person (members); $12 per person (non-members)
Space is limited, so register today by calling (434) 977-1025. If you have any questions, call or email

Matt Berman is the Exhibits and Marketing Manager at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Reach him at or

Friday, October 18, 2013

Boo Bash

Come one, come all, to our little museum of spooks for our annual Halloween party! This year, the Boo Bash will be Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26, from 6:00-7:30.

From the mad scientists in their lab to a tour of the wicked witch's cabin, there will be plenty of fun for kids ages 2-8 and their adults. Wear your most creative costume and see the museum transformed into a not-so-haunted house for the little ones. If you are feeling brave, venture into the glow room. Then, decorate a cookie, try your hand at boo bowling and the spiderweb game to win cool prizes, and enjoy family time with a night of crafts, games, and more! It's the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.

Don't miss out on the best night of the year at the museum. Space is limited, so register today for this spooktacular good time!  The cost is $6 per person for members and $8 per person for non-members.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Autumn Experiments

Monday, Oct. 28, is a Teacher Work Day, so school is out! Instead, come play and learn at the museum. We will be exploring science of the season, starting with learning why leaves change color. We'll do a chromatography experiment and check out some demonstrations to see just how that works.

Later, we'll dive into biology, looking at fall fruit. We will investigate pumpkins and apples. What is inside each of these fruits? What makes them different, and what is the same?

This full day program will run from 9:00-3:00 and is best for ages 4-8. We will provide a snack and kids should bring a packed lunch with them. Registration is required and the deadline will be Wednesday, Oct. 23. The cost is $60 for members and $70 for non-members. Call (434) 977-1025 to register today!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Meet a Police Officer you ever wondered what it takes to be a police officer? At 10:30 this Saturday, Officer D.E. Williams from the City of Charlottesville Police Department will answer your question! Stop by the museum for a short class on safety for kids. See his badge and uniform and learn about how police officers work to keep us all safe. Officer Williams may be looking for a few new Junior Officers! This program, which is part of our Meet Me on Main Street series, is free with admission to the museum and is open to all ages with an adult.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Glaciers, Volcanoes, and Tornadoes... Oh My!

Did you know that school is out next Monday? That's right! Charlottesville and Albemarle County Public Schools are not in session on September 30. Why not drop your kids off at the museum for the day instead? We have a full school day program for kids ages 4 to 8, packed with exciting activities, crafts, and learning, all about Glaciers, Volcanoes, and Tornadoes, Oh My!

Come discover the world of polar bears and penguins as we journey to the North and South Pole and unlock the mystery behind the formation of glaciers. Then away we will go to learn all about volcanoes and tornadoes. From the top of Mt. Rainier to the planes of Oklahoma, we will study what makes lava flow and twisters blow.
Snacks are provided, but kids should bring a packed lunch. The program will run from 9 to 3 and costs $60 for members and $70 for non-members. Pre-registration is required, so call Diana at (434) 977-1025 x9 today!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Discoveroo is coming!

This Sunday is the Virginia Discovery Museum's annual family music festival, Discoveroo! Do you have your tickets yet for this exciting event? Join us at the Charlottesville Pavilion on the Downtown Mall for an exciting event featuring live music, fun dances, and games for kids of all ages. Discoveroo will feature thrilling acts such as the The Diggity Dudes, Bill Wellington, and Hope Harris. Here's Hope at last year's event!
Over 20 educational, interactive exhibitors are coming to share all about arts and culture! Come learn stage effects from the American Shakespeare Center, the art of colors from the local Girl Scouts, try some hip-hop with Charlottesville Performing Arts School, and dance the flamenco with Speak! Language Center. As always, the museum beekeepers will be there to answer any questions you have about their art, apiology.  Check out Ken hanging out with the Charlottesville Family Magazine mascot!
 We will also have fun festival activities happening all day, like face painting, bubbles, and best of all, dancing to the music! Tickets are available at the museum, at the event, or online. Member tickets are $10 and non-member tickets are $12 per person. A Family Four-Pack is only $25! Military families can pick up free tickets at the museum or on the day of the event.
The gates will open at 12:30 and the concert kicks off at 1:00. See you there!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Camps

The VDM staff has been hard at work creating our best camp line up yet and we just can’t wait for summer to start! Don’t miss out on your chance to share in the good times… call to register today. This summer, the Virginia Discovery Museum will host seven interactive and educational summer camps. All camps are for children ages 4-7 and run Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 12:00pm. These fun-filled camps are $150 for members and $190 for non-members. To register, call 434-977-1025 and ask for Diana or email Sign up today!

June 24-28: We’re Going on a Trip in our Favorite Rocket Ship -Not quite old enough for NASA’s camp? Come learn about the final frontier while building your own rocket and practicing to be an astronaut. We’ll make a model of our solar system and blast off on a trip of our own!

July 8-12: Underwater Explorations - Let’s take a dive in our very own bathysphere and investigate the mysteries of the deep! We will explore the oceans and marine life through thrilling science experiments and make our own versions of oceanic creatures.

July 15-19: Myths and Legends - From Hercules and Medusa to Bigfoot, join us to learn about the myths and legends of yesterday and today. We will be diving into the lake of the Loch Ness Monster and flying high into the sky with Pegasus. Learn all about a world of magic and mystery!

July 22-26: Art Detectives - Put on your detective hats and get out your magnifying glasses! Let’s discover why the Mona Lisa smiles and which artist painted a masterpiece on his back. We will solve clues and investigate popular artists and styles, creating our very own masterpieces along the way.

July 29-August 2: European Adventures - Let’s travel to a different country each day! Trekking across the continent, we will look at art, taste food, and discover what makes each country unique.

August 5-9: Welcome to Broadway- Do you love to dress up and put on plays? Let’s put on a show! Come be in the spotlight as we build a set, design costumes, and act out our own script.

August 12-16: Sailing the Seven Seas - Ahoy matey! Let’s look through the spyglass to learn about Blackbeard and his crew. We are going to swab the deck and batten down the hatches as we go in search of buried treasure. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Floors

You may remember back in January when we announced our plans to renovate the floors in the Back Gallery. Well, we're doing it next week! 

VDM will be closing the Back Gallery for the week of May 6-11 to install brand new floors! These floors, which have not been updated in 12 years, will consist of eco-friendly and child-safe materials. We are excited to see how these new floors will highlight the fantastic exhibits of Little C'ville. These floors are thanks to generous donors and Home Depot. The Front Gallery will remain open to the public for the duration. Thank you for your patience and we hope you are as excited as we are about this new renovation!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet Me on Main Street

This Saturday is a big day for our Meet Me on Main Street program. We have not one, but two special community partners coming to the museum! First, at 10:30, come meet the bee keeper. You've seen the bees in the back gallery. Now, here's your chance to meet the bee keeper who takes care of them! Karen and Ken Hall have been keeping the VDM bees healthy and happy for years. Join them to learn about apiology, the study of bees!

Later, at 1:00. stop by to meet the Cookie Mouse. We all love the classic children's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Join us to meet the main character and enjoy story time in Little C'ville. Sponsored by Barnes & Noble, this family friendly event will introduce you to one of the most beloved children's series.

As usual, these Meet Me on Main Street programs are open to all ages with an adult and are free with admission. Next, keep an eye out for an Instrument Petting Zoo on May 4 and a chance to Meet the Nurse on May 11 before our drop in programs go on hiatus for the summer!

Friday, March 22, 2013

What a Weekend!

It's a busy weekend downtown!

 First of all, right here at the museum, we're going Wild About Reading! This annual program is a part of the Virginia Festival of the Book's StoryFest.  Learn about Virginia's wildlife through an enlightening program which includes up-close experiences with live animals and story reading. The first 100 children will receive a wildlife-themed book. This program is especially suitable for families with children from preschool to 2nd grade and is free with admission to the museum.  Hosted by WHTJ PBS Charlottesville, Virginia Discovery Museum, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

For more information about Virginia Festival of the Book children's programs and all the StoryFest! events, see the VFB website on the mall, the Downtown Business Association and the City of Charlottesville are hosting an historic carousel  at Central Place. That's right! There's a big carousel coming to play with our little one! The visiting carousel will be here today, Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24. Rides will run from 12 to 6 each day and are free to the public.

If you are downtown for any of these events today or tomorrow, don't forget to stop into the museum! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Discovery DASH!

23rd Annual Discovery Dash
Saturday, May 18, 2013
at Monticello High School

Virginia’s oldest kids’ track race!
Races for kids ages 3-12

Register online here!

It’s time to start thinking about the Virginia Discovery Museum’s Annual Discovery Dash. This will be our 23rd  year hosting this event and we hope to have our largest turn-out ever. Taking place at Monticello High School on May 18, this event will feature over a dozen fun-filled races including a scramble for the little ones and exciting parent-child relays. Schools throughout the area are welcome to enter teams of runners for the school relay. There will be trophies, raffle prizes, yummy food, and great exercise.

The Discovery Dash has long been one of the most fun events hosted by VDM. It is always a joy to see the kids run their hearts out as they are supported by their friends and family. What a great way to bond through healthy exercise and competition! VDM is also pleased to be a part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a comprehensive initiative started by Michelle Obama to promote a healthier, more physical lifestyle for kids. We hope that this event encourages kids to engage in more physical activities that challenge their bodies and enrich their lives.

The Discovery Dash is also part of the Kids’ Triple Crown Series, a series of four Charlottesville area not-for-profit races sponsored by Ragged Mountain Running. To qualify for the Triple Crown medal, runners need to finish at least three of the four races: the Charlottesville Ten Miler – Kid’s Track Races, the Run for Autism, the Family Fitness Fair, and the Discovery Dash. We are excited to continue participating in this fun, community-wide opportunity. 

If you’ve participated in previous Dashes, we are looking forward to seeing you again. If you have never participated, make this the year to start. So mark your calendars for May 18 and check out for more information and to register. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Journey to Camelot

It will be spring break before we know it, so we're getting ready for our Spring Break Camp! This is your chance to get a taste of our summer camps the first week in April. Our camps are for ages 4-7 and run from 9:00 to 12:00, Monday to Friday.

This year, the theme will be Journey to Camelot! Come and create your very own kingdom. What was it like to live in the times of knights and princesses? What did they eat? What did they wear? What games did kids play? Journey with us to explore the medieval world of Camelot and castles and dragons. From jousting tournaments to running the gauntlet, help us rediscover this long lost world.

Camps require pre-registration and cost $150 for members and $190 for non-members. Call us today at 977-1025 to sign up!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Meet Spike the Porcupine

This Saturday, March 9th, is the next installment of our popular program, Meet Me On Main Street. This program brings guests from our community into Little C'ville, where kids and families can learn more about what they do.
This week, we will get the chance to meet Kristin from the Blue Ridge Poison Center and her poison safety puppet, Spike! Spike is a porcupine and the main character in a short poison safety video that will be shown at 10:30 in the Back Gallery. Kristin and Spike will then share a game, a craft, and lots of important information about staying safe around potential poisons. Young children are at greatest risk for unintentional poisonings, so join us for this fun and important program. This program is free with admission.

Friday, March 1, 2013


 Kid*Vention was so much fun! We had about 1200 visitors learning from 32 community and university organizations about all different types of science. Thank you to all of our exhibitors and visitors, as well as Panera, who provided lunch for our exhibitors, the City of Charlottesville for their help with using the Key Recreation Center, Les Sinclair from Lite Rock Z95.1 for publicity and music at the event, Barnes & Noble, who donated our raffle prizes, and all of our wonderful volunteers from the Junior League of Charlottesville, Alpha Phi Omega and VDM's own Bob and Cynthia. We also want to thank our sponsors, Blue Ridge Internet Works and Kiddie Academy. Last but not least, thank you to Susan Parmar, the photographer who captured these wonderful images. These are just a few of my favorites- check out our Facebook album for a larger selection!

Picking her brain at the Neuroscience table.
Checking Roxy's heartbeat with Monticello Animal Hospital.

We love the bees!

Everyone's learning about science.

Everyone got to take home a magnifying glass from WHTJ.

Can you outrun a robot built by AHS's MESA program?
Balloon rockets!

The American Society for Engineering Education introduced us to electromagnets. These ones play music!

He has just finished extracting the DNA from a strawberry with LEAD!

Check out that skull that ICF brought to share.

Friday, February 15, 2013


We're getting so excited! It's almost time for Kid*Vention, VDM's free family science festival!

Join us for Kid*Vention, our annual celebration of everything science, on February 23 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Once again, the event will be at the Key Recreation Center near the Pavilion on the East end of the Downtown Mall. Kid*Vention is a free community event at which children and their families can learn and play at a variety of stations run by VDM’s friends in the Charlottesville community. Over thirty community groups will be there to share their expertise about everything from astronomy to zoology. Come see their favorite parts of science made accessible to you through demonstrations, craft activities, and interactive games. Perfect for kids up to the age of 10, but all ages are welcome. Kid*Vention will feature stations on meteorology, the human body, the environment, chemistry, and more!

Come on out for a day of free science fun!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

TWD Change!

Next week, we had a Teacher Work Day program scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, February 18 and 19, a partnership with Speak! Language Center for a two-day, Spanish immersion class.

Then, we found out that Tuesday is a snow make-up day for both Charlottesville City and Albemarle County School Systems.

So, we are now offering a one-day, half-price version of this program on just Monday, February 18, from 9-3! During this 6 hour program, children will learn Spanish songs and stories as well as entertaining and engaging games in Spanish with teacher Sandra Michalski, a native of Spain. This class motivates children to play and learn the language while having lots of fun! Learning about Spanish culture and traditions through crafts, activities and dancing flamenco makes this class an unforgettable imaginary trip to Spain your children will love.

Pleas call us at 977-1025 to register your child today!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

nTelos Cares for the VDM!

A big "thank you" to Charlottesville Family Magazine and nTelos Wireless, who have made it possible for the VDM to receive a $1,000 donation through the nTelos Cares program. Check out the details below!

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based provider of high-speed, dependable nationwide coverage for less, has donated $1,000 to the Virginia Discovery Museum.

The funds were donated via the company’s nTelos Cares program, which uses partnerships with local bloggers to benefit local nonprofits through social media sharing.  

“We are thankful that nTelos Wireless reached out to Charlottesville Family and they chose us to partner with them for this innovative promotion,” said Amy Wicks-Horn, executive director of the Virginia Discovery Museum. “It’s because of local companies and activities like this that we are able to year-after-year engage new supporters and further strengthen our brand in the local community.”

The Virginia Discovery Museum strives to bring young children and families together to engage minds, excite imaginations and explore the world around them. nTelos Wireless partnered with Charlottesville Family, which blogged about the Virginia Discovery Museum and asked its readers to help raise awareness – and funds – for the museum by sharing via Facebook and Twitter.

“We thought using our website and blog to increase awareness of one of our favorite charities was a fantastic idea,” said Jane DeGeorge, editor of Charlottesville Family Magazine. “It not only brought attention to our publication and website, but drove awareness of our Facebook page and the Facebook page of the Virginia Discovery Museum.”

“Every day, people use blogs and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to communicate about things they are passionate about and the nTelos Cares program encourages the use of these tools to help generate awareness of worthy non-profits in our local community,” said Conrad Hunter, chief operating officer of nTelos Wireless. “It’s great when we can partner with a non-profit and see a grassroots effort start to form and gain momentum all online.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Books and Floors

What do books and floors have in common? Besides "oo," they are both projects that the staff is working on here at the museum!

This Saturday, you can support the Virginia Discovery Museum by shopping at Barnes & Noble in Charlottesville, Virginia. In an effort to raise money for the museum, VDM is working together with Barnes & Noble Booksellers by hosting a Bookfair at the Barracks Road Shopping Center store. On January 12th, Barnes & Noble will donate a percentage of every sale made with a special Bookfair voucher. The vouchers can be picked up at the museum or from VDM's table at the store on Saturday. If you don't have a voucher, you can also simply mention VDM to the cashier. This is a great chance to use any holiday gift cards that are still around! Amy and Peter will also be at Barnes & Noble hosting fun crafts and story time events. Be sure to stop by the store for your favorite books, a craft, and support VDM!

If you can't make it to the store on Saturday, visit and use Bookfair ID Number 10988475 when you check out, between January 12th and 17th.

This past September, VDM saw its largest and most complicated renovation yet! The museum unveiled a brand new Back Gallery filled with many interactive and fun-filled exhibits, including "Little C'ville," a Virginia-centric hallway, and many new, fun touches in the Front Gallery. After witnessing such a wonderful outpouring of excitement and support in reaction to these changes, the VDM staff is starting work on their next big project: new floors!

The museum has now begun the project to replace the Back Gallery floors, which have not been updated in 12 years. Aiming to renovate the floors in February, the VDM staff has already started researching various eco-friendly and child-safe materials for these floors. We are excited to see all the different materials and colors that are not only environmentally conscious, but also will best highlight the fantastic new exhibits in the Back Gallery. We are also looking at all the fun educational components of these materials to teach kids about recyclables and possibly design.

Thanks to a generous donor, VDM has raised half the funds needed to accomplish our goal. If you are interested in helping to replace the Back Gallery floors, pleas contact us at Help us create a safe, eco-friendly, and educational environment for our visitors.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Underwater Art

 School just started back up after the holidays, but the next day off is less than two weeks away! Next Friday, January 18th, is a Teacher Work Day and that mean it's also the next Teacher Work Day program at the museum. This time, the theme is Art from Under the Sea. We’re diving deep to learn about some underwater creatures and making our own versions. We’ll take part in the Whale Mail program, based at the Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine. We’ll see some of their artwork, then send one of our creations back to them.

Kids at the Children's Museum and Theater of Maine have been learning all about humpback whales this year. They made postcards with beautiful watercolor pictures of the whales, which were mailed to children's museums along the east coast, following the humpback whales' migration patterns. Humpback whales can be spotted off the coast of Virginia in the winter, so we are hosting a pod of paper whales here at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Even if you can't come for our Teacher Work Day Program, the whales will be on display through the winter, so stop by to say hi!
The Underwater Art program will be January 18th, from 9-12. It is for ages 5-8 and costs $30 for members and $35 for non-members. Pre-registration is required. We will provide all the materials for the activities and a healthy snack, as well as three hours of fun at the museum! 

Also, keep an eye out for our next Teacher Work Day program, co-sponsored by Speak! Language Center. It's an expanded, 2-day Spanish immersion class on February 18 and 19, from 9-3. Registration is now open for both programs, so give us a call at 977-1025.