Renovations planned for Chicago indoor children's garden
A popular children's garden on Chicago's West Side is slated to undergo renovations starting this spring, with a focus on improving accessibility for people with disabilities.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the estimated $5.6 million project includes a spiral ramp from the ground to the roof of the children's garden inside the Garfield Park Conservatory. Plans also include an art and nature gallery, a toddler-specific gallery and a texture trail.
The garden has not been renovated since it opened more than 20 years ago as the largest indoor natural playscape in the U.S., said Jennifer Van Valkenburg, president and CEO for the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.
"For people to be connected to nature, understand ecosystems, understand that these plants talk to each other and to us and that we rely on them," she said. "We are extremely excited and privileged to have the opportunity to connect people to that understanding of nature in a way that's not scary and that is embracing our relationship with plants and nature."
The garden was closed as a precaution due to the COVID-19 pandemic but drew 260,000 visitors in 2019, including nearly 20,000 children on organized field trips.
Organizers have raised $4 million so far and are still raising money, with hopes to reopen the garden in the fall of 2023.