Written by Wes Schmidgall
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:00
NORMAL — Around 70 percent of the families that visit the Children’s Discovery Museum have toddlers.
Currently, toddlers have limited options at the museum.
Thanks to a $209,000 grant distributed through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and $60,000 in grants from PNC Bank, the Children’s Discovery Museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., Normal, has the funds it needs to build an exhibit dedicated to toddlers.
The toddler exhibit called My Great Backyard is one of the proposed exhibits outlined in the museum’s five-year strategic plan.
“The idea for the area was actually proposed in our strategic plan from 2011, so this was part of the five-year plan and we got funding for it this past week,” said Children’s Discovery Museum Manager Sheila Riley.
The exhibit will include interactive components that provide opportunities for toddlers to explore and discover. It will include a fort and clubhouse with observation towers connected by a wooden bridge and a meandering stream.
“We’re still in kind of the developing stages of this,” said Riley. “There’s an intent to have a picnic area so kids can pretend picnic with their families. We proposed a large tree — I would say at least one tree — and a clubhouse area. There will be other things that would be run within a theme outdoors — I would say graphic representation of animals and things like that.”
The exhibit will be an extension of the toddler area that is located on the first floor of the museum.
“We have a toddler area already on the first floor, which is designed for ages 4 and under, and this is a redo and expansion of that area,” said Riley. “It’s going to be 900 square feet. About 70 percent of our visitation includes families with children that are that age and younger, so we’ll be answering to a large percentage of our visitation.”
According to Riley, the exhibit will open in 2014.
“We haven’t established any kind of time frame at this point,” said Riley. “A lot of it is going to depend on when we actually get the funding and paperwork from the State and things like that, but I would imagine sometime next year we’ll be constructing it and doing an installation.”
It will cost the museum more than the $269,000 in grants that it collected for My Great Backyard, to build the exhibit.
“The estimate last year was $269,000,” said Riley. “We need to get a new estimate for the project, which at this point it may be around $300,000. So in addition to the state money and the PNC money, we’re holding several fundraisers this year. We have a luncheon this month and then a couple of other fundraisers, in order to raise the difference in the funds that are needed.”
Through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, $15 million in state money was awarded to several museums for facility improvements this month.
“Our museums expand educational frontiers by allowing visitors to learn about Illinois’ history and cultural diversity in unique, interactive ways,” said Quinn in a news release. “These Illinois Jobs Now! grants will not only help preserve and enhance some of Illinois’ greatest treasures, but also boost the economy by creating jobs and bringing more visitors to our state and its outstanding museums.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 15:21