Learning disguised as fun: How DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville ignites kids' potential

 
Daily Herald report
Posted10/18/2019 6:00 AM

It's about shapes and sounds and colors.

It's about excitement and education.

It's about learning and laughter.

Mostly, though, it's about kids.

It's a place called the DuPage Children's Museum, and its mission is simple: ignite the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration by integrating art, math and science.

Located at a former lumber yard site at 301 N. Washington St. in Naperville, the museum got its start in the late 1980s in the back of a station wagon that founders Dorothy Carpenter and Louise Beem used to haul exhibits from town to town.

In 1992, the museum opened in the lower level of the Wheaton Park District Community Center, but officials soon realized they needed more space. An attempt to acquire another building in Wheaton failed and museum leaders turned their attention to the former Moser Lumber building in Naperville.

They originally hoped to unveil their new creation in 1999, but extensive renovations pushed that date back to May 2001.

Once the doors finally opened, the museum became an immediate hit and drew its 1 millionth customer in Naperville on Dec. 21, 2004.

Today, the colorful facility offers 17,000 square feet of exhibit space and four "neighborhoods."

In Make It Move, kids learn basic concepts of physics by rolling, bouncing, sliding and spinning objects.

In Creativity Connection, youngsters learn about the principles of light, shadow, color and positive and negative space through art-centered exhibits.

In AWEsome Energy, kids pursue interactive experiences with air, water and electricity.

Finally, Young Explorers is designed for kids 2 and younger to exercise their mind and body.

Put them all together and you've got yourself a museum where kids -- and maybe even the adults who accompany them -- learn by doing.

And, in the end, that's what it's about.

Sola Moon, 2, of Lisle adds a triangle shape to the glass in the pattern play area of the DuPage Children's Museum.
  Sola Moon, 2, of Lisle adds a triangle shape to the glass in the pattern play area of the DuPage Children's Museum.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
The DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville aims to ignite the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration.
  The DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville aims to ignite the potential of all children to learn through hands-on exploration.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Nick Conner of Warrenville and his 4-year-old daughter, Autumn, help artist-in-residence Gina Lee Robbins put together tactile mosaics.
  Nick Conner of Warrenville and his 4-year-old daughter, Autumn, help artist-in-residence Gina Lee Robbins put together tactile mosaics.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Josephine Slape, 3, visiting from Brisbane, Australia, stands in the museum's wind tunnel.
  Josephine Slape, 3, visiting from Brisbane, Australia, stands in the museum's wind tunnel.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Ashley Pultorak and her son, Pius, 2, of Glen Ellyn watch scarves shoot up tubes in the museum's AWEsome Energy Neighborhood.
  Ashley Pultorak and her son, Pius, 2, of Glen Ellyn watch scarves shoot up tubes in the museum's AWEsome Energy Neighborhood.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Pam Martyn-Nemeth and her son Owen, 2, play a piano at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.
  Pam Martyn-Nemeth and her son Owen, 2, play a piano at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Griffin Carlevato, 4, of Clarendon Hills checks out the glow art.
  Griffin Carlevato, 4, of Clarendon Hills checks out the glow art.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
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