Museum Policies & FAQs
Before visiting the Virginia Discovery Museum, please review our general rules, policies, and FAQs below. We strive to create a safe, healthy, clean, welcoming, and fun environment for all visitors.
Admission & Visit | Photography | Sickness | Cleaning | FAQs
Admission & Visit
The Museum may close due to snow or inclement weather, special events, and holidays, so be sure to check our website before planning your visit.
When Checking In:
- Adults must be accompanied by a child to enter the Museum. Adults unaccompanied by a child must be escorted at all times by a VDM staff member, if one is available. If a staff member is not available, the adult may not enter.
- Visitors must have at least one adult for every four children, and children must be supervised by an adult caregiver at all times.
- The Museum prohibits visitors from carrying firearms, knives, and weapons of any kind, regardless of whether visitors are licensed to carry those weapons. The only exception to this policy is on-duty local police officers and other federal and state law enforcement officers.
- Smoking and alcohol use are prohibited. Visitors under the influence of any legal or illegal substance may not enter.
During Your Visit:
- Food, drinks (except water bottles), and gum are prohibited in the Museum galleries. These items are restricted to the lobby and stroller room.
- Children must be supervised by an adult at all times.
- Walk in the Museum galleries; do not run.
- Use inside voices; no shouting or screaming.
- Treat visitors and exhibits with respect. No pushing, hitting, or throwing. Share and return exhibit pieces where they belong after playing.
Snow & Inclement Weather:
We are often open when schools are closed on snow days. Before heading out, check our homepage, our Facebook, or NBC29 and CBS19 to make sure the Museum is open.
The Museum is closed on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
By visiting the Museum or participating in Museum programs and events, visitors grant permission for any photographs of them and their dependents to be used for educational and promotional purposes. If a visitor does not consent and wishes to opt out of this policy, they are asked to please inquire at the front desk, contact a staff member using our Contact Us page, or call the Museum's general line at (434) 977-1025.
If you or your child have a fever or are too sick to go to work or school, then you are too sick to visit the Museum. Visitors with the following symptoms are asked to refrain from visiting the Museum until symptoms subside:
- Flu-Like Symptoms (Headache, Fever, Chills, Lethargy, Muscle Aches, Cough, Sore Throat)
- Upper Respiratory Infections (Nasal Congestion, Runny Nose, Scratchy Throat, Painful Swallowing, Cough, Watery Eyes).
- Diarrhea or Vomiting
- Conjunctivitis or “Pink Eye” Infection
- Impetigo (Infectious Skin Disease That Shows Up As Small Pimples That Turn Into Red Blisters in a Circular Pattern)
- Strep Throat (Child Must Be on Antibiotics for 48 Hours Before Coming to the Museum)
Museum staff may ask a visitor to leave the Museum if symptoms are present.
The Museum is committed to keeping our space clean and safe for our visitors. We follow recommended cleaning practices for children’s museum, based on guidelines set by the Association of Children’s Museums and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Staff and volunteers are on-site during operating hours to clean and disinfect restrooms, common areas, and exhibit spaces to eliminate the spread of germs.
- Dirty toy bins are accessible in both Museum galleries for manipulatives that have been put in a child’s mouth or otherwise soiled. Visitors are encouraged to notify a staff member or volunteer if an exhibit or exhibit piece needs attention.
- All exhibits, surfaces, and public areas are disinfected with a cleanser recommended for hospitals at the close of business each day. Flooring is mopped and vacuumed on a set schedule to ensure all areas are cleaned. Costumes and fabric materials are washed on a set schedule.
- Staff and volunteers sanitize and wash their hands throughout the day. While sanitizer is available throughout the Museum, we encourage visitors, volunteers, and staff to wash their hands with soap and water whenever possible.
What is an appropriate age range for the Museum?
The Virginia Discovery Museum is recommended for families with newborns to children age 8. If you’re unsure if your child will enjoy VDM, we encourage you to check out our Exhibits page or stop by Charlottesville’s Downton Mall to visit us and take a quick walkthrough to decide if the Museum is a good fit for your family.
How long should we plan to be at the Museum?
It takes about an hour to see everything in the Museum, but our educational play spaces are designed to accommodate your schedule, whether that’s just a quick 20- or 30-minute pit stop or a family day out on the Downtown Mall. Want to grab a bite to eat? Kids need a nap? Admission is valid until we close at 5:00 p.m., so feel free to take a break from your visit and come back to see us later in the day – just be sure to hold on to your receipt to re-enter.
Is _______________ exhibit still at the Museum?
Museum exhibits often change, but certain, time-honored exhibits like Amazing Airways and the Showalter Cabin are still here. We’d love to hear which exhibits, past and present, are your favorites and invite you to leave a comment on our Question & Comment Board in the lobby, send us a message on Facebook, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Can my family leave and re-enter?
Yes. Admission is valid for the entire day, so you may come and go as many times as you wish until we close at 5:00 p.m. Be sure to hold on to your admission receipt in order to re-enter.
Does the Museum have any free days?
The first Wednesday of every month is Wegmans Wednesday. Sponsored by Wegmans Charlottesville, this monthly pay-what-you-wish admission program waives the Museum’s normal entrance fee for all visitors. In lieu of paying admission on Wegmans Wednesdays, visitors are invited to make a donation to help support our nonprofit Museum’s exhibits and programming if they would like.
The first Saturday of every month is Museums on Us. Sponsored by Bank of America, this monthly admission program grants one free general admission ticket per cardholder when they present an active BoA credit or debit card and valid photo ID.
Be sure to check our Plan Your Visit page for more information about admission discounts, special admission programs, and our Sponsored Admission Program.
Food & Drinks
Are food and drinks permitted in the Museum?
VDM does not allow gum, food, or drinks (other than water bottles) in the Museum galleries in order to accommodate visitors with allergies. If you wish to have a snack, we invite you to sit in the lobby or, if the weather is nice, outside on the benches by the carousel or the tables at the Sprint Pavilion.
Are there places nearby to eat lunch?
Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall has lots of family-friendly places within walking distance to grab a bite to eat. Three doors down from the Museum is Baggby’s, which features gourmet sandwiches and subs, soups, and salads. Some other places to check out include Draft Taproom, a casual restaurant that features a “Half Pints” kids menu; The Nook for diner-style dishes and all-day breakfast; Vita Nova and Christian’s Pizza for pizza by the slice; Marco & Luca for dumplings and noodles; and Revolutionary Soup, whose menu includes many vegetarian and vegan options. Craving something particular? Be sure to ask the volunteer or staff member at the front desk for recommendations.
Where can I park?
Keep in mind that the Museum is located on a pedestrian mall. Street parking is available around the Downtown Mall, but we suggest parking in the Market Street Garage or Water Street Garage. Both locations provide the first hour of parking for free, and Museum guests receive an additional hour of free parking – for a total of two hours – when they request a validation ticket at VDM’s front desk.
The Museum is also located next to the Downtown Transit Station and Visitors Center, and Charlottesville Area Transit offers a Free Trolley that stops at the station as it travels through Downtown and the University of Virginia. Click to learn more about parking downtown or more about bus routes and fares.
Does the Museum offer guest Wi-Fi?
VDM is pleased to offer high-speed wireless Internet access to our visitors thanks to Ting Charlottesville. Please inquire at the front desk or ask a staff member during your visit for information on how to connect to the Ting_2.4G@VDM guest network.
Are strollers permitted?
Yes. You may either take your stroller with you during your time in the Museum or park it in our convenient Stroller Room located by the lobby.
Are lockers available?
The Museum does not have lockers; however, our Stroller Room, located by the lobby, is equipped with spacious cubbies. You may store your belongings in these cubbies during your visit, but the Museum is not responsible for any valuables.
Does the Museum have changing tables?
Yes. Both the men’s and women’s restrooms, located at the rear of the Front Gallery next to the Light Bright, are equipped with changing tables.
Does the Museum provide diapers or baby wipes?
VDM occasionally receives donations of diapers, training pants, and baby wipes that we keep on hand in case of accidents, but we cannot guarantee that these items will always be available. If you’ve forgotten your diaper bag or your child has had an accident, please stop by the front desk or speak with a staff member so that we can assist you.
Is the Museum open during snow?
We are often open when schools are closed on snow days, provided the roads are still passable and safe. Before heading out, check our homepage, our Facebook, or NBC29 and CBS19 to make sure the Museum is open.