Exhibit construction starting soon on damaged DuPage Children's Museum
A new exhibit will be part of the fun when DuPage Children's Museum reopens its flood-damaged home in Naperville this summer.
"Math Playground" will take up part of the second floor when an estimated $2 million renovation to the building at 301 N. Washington St. is complete, said Kim Stull, director of exhibits and operations.
"Math Playground is going to be an opportunity for kids to really experience math in a physical way," Stull said about the exhibit that will focus on shapes. "It will be a really fun approach to math in a way that really is all about play and experiencing the spatial geometry."
Meant for newborns to 10-year-olds, the new exhibit is just one element of renovations the museum is conducting after a pipe burst and flooded all three floors Jan. 8. The museum's main location has been closed since then, but in early February, it opened DCM@The Mall at Westfield Fox Valley shopping center in Aurora.
Sarah Orleans, president and CEO, said the museum has hired two exhibit design firms, Chicago Scenic Studios and Superior Exhibits & Design of Elk Grove Village, to put together the new math area and re-create three others that were heavily damaged.
Museum employees and contractors are working on "deconstruction" now, Orleans said, removing items that weren't damaged and storing them until they can find their new place in the spruced up museum. In three weeks, construction inside the building is expected to start, and in six weeks, flooring will be installed before exhibit pieces can fall into place.
Three main exhibits on the first floor -- Creativity Connections, Make It Move and the Art Studio -- suffered the most damage and will be completely overhauled. The Good Show Gallery art display area on the first floor near the entrance also will be moved and upgraded. Other areas will get new touches like a fresh coat of paint or updated flooring.
"Everything has been impacted in one way or another," Stull said.
Orleans said replacement insurance covers most planned renovations, but the museum is seeking $200,000 to make the facelift consistent throughout the entire building. A $50,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation, which already sponsors the museum with $52,000 a year for operating expenses, will help fill the gap, but the museum is trying to raise another $50,000 by April 15 to match it.
Orleans said fundraising is well on its way to the match, with $20,000 brought in so far. To make a donation, visit dupagechildrensmuseum.org or call (630) 637-8000.
Once the museum reopens with new play structures and fresh colors, work will continue on an update of the water, air and electricity areas into one combined exhibit, AWEsome Energy. The museum will put $25,000 in special events and cultural amenities from the city of Naperville toward the redesign, which will begin in the fall.
"The big, grand redesign will be the next surprise after we reopen," Orleans said.
Museums usually spend two years on the type of renovations DuPage Children's is trying to conduct in seven months, Orleans said. So while she understands public questions about the duration of the closure, she said the scope of work simply takes time. The museum is planning for a grand reopening in late July or early August.
"I'm sorry it's taken so long," she said. "But I think the wait will be well worth it."