Re-imagined DuPage Children's Museum full of 'positive energy'

 
 
Updated 9/19/2015 9:59 PM
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  • Abby Shirley, 5, of Romeoville enjoys her hands-on experience Saturday during the opening of the newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.

      Abby Shirley, 5, of Romeoville enjoys her hands-on experience Saturday during the opening of the newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • The newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is now open, following an eight-month reconstruction that resulted from a flood.

      The newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville is now open, following an eight-month reconstruction that resulted from a flood. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Stephanie Leitzen and her son Aiden Leitzen, 4, of Warrenville, assemble a Rig-a-ma-jig Saturday during the opening of the newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.

      Stephanie Leitzen and her son Aiden Leitzen, 4, of Warrenville, assemble a Rig-a-ma-jig Saturday during the opening of the newly remodeled DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

There was something special in the air Saturday morning when the DuPage Children's Museum opened its doors for the first time in eight months. And everyone was feeling it.

"It's the positive energy all around this place, it's everywhere," said eight-year employee Kandy Black, of Wheaton. "This place was destroyed. Everyone could have packed it in and given up, but we didn't. Everyone fed off this positive energy and was determined to make it better than before."

A second-story pipe burst in the overnight hours of Jan. 9, causing about $2 million in damage to the museum and forcing it to operate off-site at DCM@The Mall at Westfield Fox Valley in Aurora while renovations took place.

A complete overhaul of the building was on display Saturday as families lined up to check it out.

"This has always been a place dear to our family, so we're thrilled to be back," said Aurora resident Connie Patchik, who brought her young daughter and a friend. "It's all so bright and so new. These girls will be able to enjoy all this new stuff for several years."

The new second-story Math Playground is expected to be one of the most popular new exhibits.

"This area employs a concept we call no-numbers math and focuses on how our bodies interact with geometric shapes," said Katie Edinger, senior public program manager. "The kids love crawling in and through all the shapes. They've already decided the hexagon is the roomiest shape."

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.

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 second story offers a quiet space away from the bustle of the museum, stocked with learning resources for parents and play experiences for the children.

"As terrible as the flood was, they've done a tremendous job making this place feel new," said Todd Grogan of Plainfield. who was with his 5-year-old son Connor. "There's a new energy here. It's really cool."

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