Re-imagined DuPage Children's Museum opens Saturday -- 8 months after flood

  • The redesigned Make it Move exhibit lets children be part of the fun at DuPage Children's Museum. It's one of many classic play spaces at the facility that has been re-imagined since a pipe burst and flooded the museum in January.

      The redesigned Make it Move exhibit lets children be part of the fun at DuPage Children's Museum. It's one of many classic play spaces at the facility that has been re-imagined since a pipe burst and flooded the museum in January. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Kids such as Matthew Obemeier, 7, of Naperville will have plenty of new building and exploring to do as DuPage Children's Museum reopens to the public Saturday morning after an eight-month closure because of flood damage.

      Kids such as Matthew Obemeier, 7, of Naperville will have plenty of new building and exploring to do as DuPage Children's Museum reopens to the public Saturday morning after an eight-month closure because of flood damage. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • A new, round Wonder Room at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is one of several new spaces visitors can check out beginning Saturday morning, when the museum reopens after an eight-month closure to repair flood damage.

      A new, round Wonder Room at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is one of several new spaces visitors can check out beginning Saturday morning, when the museum reopens after an eight-month closure to repair flood damage. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • The water play are at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville has undergone some changes while the museum was closed since Jan. 9 to repair damage caused when a pipe burst.

      The water play are at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville has undergone some changes while the museum was closed since Jan. 9 to repair damage caused when a pipe burst. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • An exhibit called Math Playground on the third floor of DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is one of several new areas.

      An exhibit called Math Playground on the third floor of DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is one of several new areas. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Sarah Orleans, President and CEO of DuPage Children's Museum, looks out at museum volunteers Wednesday and just says, "Wow." Orleans said she's impressed at the museum's transformation during the past eight months from a flooded mess to a bright, open space for early learning and play.

      Sarah Orleans, President and CEO of DuPage Children's Museum, looks out at museum volunteers Wednesday and just says, "Wow." Orleans said she's impressed at the museum's transformation during the past eight months from a flooded mess to a bright, open space for early learning and play. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Kids such as Kalev Bishop, 10, of Naperville can check out new light blocks in the Creativity Connections exhibit at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. The museum's grand reopening is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday after an eight-month closure to repair flood damage caused when a pipe burst.

      Kids such as Kalev Bishop, 10, of Naperville can check out new light blocks in the Creativity Connections exhibit at DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. The museum's grand reopening is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday after an eight-month closure to repair flood damage caused when a pipe burst. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • A reading nook in the Creativity Connections area of DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville overlooks a fish tank that kids will be glad to hear has survived the museum's eight-month closure to repair flood damage caused when a pipe burst Jan. 9.

      A reading nook in the Creativity Connections area of DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville overlooks a fish tank that kids will be glad to hear has survived the museum's eight-month closure to repair flood damage caused when a pipe burst Jan. 9. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Mayor Emeritus George Pradel welcomes DuPage Children's Museum volunteers to the new volunteer center added to the third floor during renovations made to repair water damage the building suffered when a pipe burst in January. The museum named its volunteer hub after Pradel to honor his longtime service to the community.

      Naperville Mayor Emeritus George Pradel welcomes DuPage Children's Museum volunteers to the new volunteer center added to the third floor during renovations made to repair water damage the building suffered when a pipe burst in January. The museum named its volunteer hub after Pradel to honor his longtime service to the community. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/17/2015 11:10 AM

The leader of the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville opens her eyes wide, stretches her arms out and just says, "Wow."

Sarah Orleans, president and CEO of the major early learning destination that has been closed since a pipe burst Jan. 9, knows now that she's accomplished her goal of rebuilding the museum -- not just to match its former playful glory, but to improve on it.

 

"It's so beautiful, and people are loving it," Orleans said Wednesday as the museum welcomed the grade school set for the first time since flooding struck. "The kids love it."

Children of some of the museum's 1,000 volunteers were the first to play on its newly redesigned exhibits. They got a head start on other children and families, who will be able to enter starting at 9 a.m. Saturday during its grand reopening at 301 N. Washington St.

What visitors will see has been almost completely re-imagined and renovated following the flood, which damaged all three floors.

Take, for example, the third level. It now focuses on math and is dominated by an all-new exhibit called Math Playground.

"It's all about shapes and how we can feel them with our bodies," said Katie Edinger, senior public program manager.

Kids can lounge in a roomy hexagon or see what it feels like to squeeze into a trapezoid. And that's just for starters.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Check out the large Creativity Connections space on the main floor, where a low, triangular "pyramis bench" invites kids to work together to fill square-shaped gaps in the base with blocks, creating their own structures. Old "pyramis tables" were a kid favorite, Edinger said, but they were small and led to youngsters playing in isolation.

"We're really hoping that the size will encourage cooperative play to build something larger," Edinger said.

The "Make It Move" section of the museum, which still features remnants of original materials the museum's founders carted to different locations 28 years ago before a physical space was established, also is redesigned. New in the ramps and rollers portion of "Make It Move" is an uneven, stair-stepped floor below a large conveyor belt that demonstrates how a simple machine moves objects from one spot to another. Kids play with the belt by cranking its wheel.

"I can already see that it's going to be quite the hit," Edinger said.

Other new additions include the Explorer Store near the entrance and a round Wonder Room with a mural, a color-shifting bench and a digital projector that changes with shadows -- all in space that used to be occupied by an office. Program rooms and school labs have been rebuilt and decorated with murals by local artists. And The Family Room on the top floor offers a quiet space away from the bustle of the museum, stocked with learning resources for parents and play experiences for their young.

Adults touring the building Wednesday noticed the space seems broader, more open.

"We really wanted to showcase the grandeur of the building by having these big, flowing spaces," Edinger said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Orleans calls it "a playful sophistication," something the design team aimed to create during eight months and seven days away from the 50,000-square-foot space.

"We created ways that really slow kids down where they can stop and explore and do all these great activities," Orleans said.

The entire rebuild cost about $2 million, and Orleans estimates the museum incurred another $1 million for operating off-site at DCM@The Mall at Westfield Fox Valley in Aurora and losing business that otherwise would have visited the main location.

Before opening to the public, the museum celebrated one more new space: the Mayor A. George Pradel Volunteer Center on the third floor, which offers computers, lockers and meeting space for all those who donate their time to DuPage Children's Museum.

"When you volunteer for the children," Pradel said as the space was dedicated in his honor, "you see their lives change and you see them benefit."

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.