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updated: 9/17/2012 4:50 PM

New train exhibit steams into DuPage Children's Museum

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  • Patricia Mackie of Bolingbrook watches as her daughter, Delilah, works the crane at the DuPage Children's Museum to load luggage and freight.

       Patricia Mackie of Bolingbrook watches as her daughter, Delilah, works the crane at the DuPage Children's Museum to load luggage and freight.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Celia Jefferson, 4, of Evanston, minds the ticket booth at the DuPage Children's Museum's train exhibit. Her family members are regulars at the Naperville museum.

       Celia Jefferson, 4, of Evanston, minds the ticket booth at the DuPage Children's Museum's train exhibit. Her family members are regulars at the Naperville museum.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Kids watch the trains go around in the revamped electric model train exhibit that features colorful shapes instead of the traditional, scenic layout at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.

       Kids watch the trains go around in the revamped electric model train exhibit that features colorful shapes instead of the traditional, scenic layout at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • DuPage Children's Museum exhibit director Peter Crabb, center, demonstrates one of the wooden trains for James Duncan, 2. The wooden trains that kids can push around the tracks are a new part of the updated exhibit.

       DuPage Children's Museum exhibit director Peter Crabb, center, demonstrates one of the wooden trains for James Duncan, 2. The wooden trains that kids can push around the tracks are a new part of the updated exhibit.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

It's a measure of success that youngsters playing in the updated model train exhibit unveiled Monday at the DuPage Children's Museum were way too busy to talk to any reporter.

Their parents, though, were a bit more verbal.

"Love it," said Patricia Mackie of Bolingbrook who was at the museum near downtown Naperville with her daughter, Delilah, almost 4, and her son, Asher, 18 months. "I love the cutouts. The kids can access everything."

Mackie was referring to the child-height model train table where kids pushed the cars themselves and could even build part of the tracks.

"We felt the kids actually wanted to touch the trains," said Peter Crabbe, director of exhibits, who explained that the new child-height table was added after museum staff watched kids interact with the train exhibit installed last year.

Then, as now, kids could watch electric model trains run around the tracks behind glass, but a lot of pint-size engineers wanted to make the trains move themselves.

"I like that they have one they look at and the one they touch," said Becky Nemec who, with 2-year-old son Cole, was visiting from Denver, Colo. "I think it's pretty neat."

The revamped exhibit, "Trains -- All Aboard Art!" puts an emphasis on learning about trains through art. The layout for electric model trains has changed from more realistic scenery to a landscape based on cubist artist Gino Severini's "Red Cross Train Passing a Village." The color scheme has changed and a new monitor on the wall gives a closer view of the moving train.

Also new is a crane that allows children to load up their own luggage and freight. An enlarged mural of artist Don Stewart's "Stream Train" contains hidden pictures for children and parents to find, such as a bicycle and barrel along with parts of the engine itself.

"It's become a little bit interactive and a little bit of a history lesson," Crabbe said.

Youngers still can ride in three, child-sized cars; climb a control tower; see real trains going by out the window; read a Metra schedule; and sell tickets at the train booth.

"They like dressing up and pretending they're in charge of the trains," said Kerri Mahla of Hoffman Estates, who is regular at the museum with daughter, Kesech, 3, They had brought two young friends with them.

"This is the reason our friends wanted to come. They heard there were new trains," Mahla said.

Crabbe said visitors have a year to see the trains before the second-floor exhibit is replaced with one on architecture. Portions of the train exhibit might be moved to other parts of the museum, he said.

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