New free children's museum in Palatine wants to draw kids from across suburbs
Fun and learning are blending together at Quest Academy's new interactive children's museum in Palatine, where young students have made a visible imprint on the operation.
"It's built by kids, for kids," said Gary Mann, a Quest lower-school art teacher who also is creative director for the museum that's in a 1,500-square-foot space at Palatine Centre on Northwest Highway, between Smith and Benton streets.
Called My Museum, it is adjacent to Quest's preschool in the strip mall. While connected to the private school that educates intellectually gifted children in preschool through eighth grade, Quest officials want to draw students to the free museum from across the Northwest suburbs.
My Museum covers several academic areas and has 14 exhibits including Grandma Moses' attic representing the late American folk painter, a grocery store, a canoe with items buried in it that would have been used by explorers Marquette and Joliet, a flags of nations puzzle and an underwater food truck submarine.
"No kid should be denied learning and play, no matter what their circumstances are," Mann said.
Much of the creativity has come from Quest's younger students. For example, they devised a pun-filled menu for the food truck submarine with "quarter flounder," "krill cheese sandwich" and "mussel sprouts" among the items listed on a board.
Kindergarten teacher Trish Cohn brought one of her classes to the museum last week. As several of the children showed keen interest in the grocery store that has items on small shelves and pint-size carts, Cohn said that exhibit has been a way for kids to learn about food nutrition and making good choices.
Head of School Jacquelyn Negus said the Quest children's involvement in the museum design stems from a value system there that encourages the students to consider opportunities to serve others.
"Although our own students frequently visit the museum, we are thrilled that the community is also enjoying the fruits of our efforts," Negus said. "Feedback about the facility has been outstanding, and we hope to continue changing out exhibits as the children create, as well as inform more and more families of our existence."
My Museum opened in September with an understanding it must be financially self-sustaining, Negus said. She said additional donors are being sought because there only is enough money to keep the museum running through early next year.
"Three families who are employed by the school believed enough in the project to combine resources and pave the way to begin," she said. "The museum needs $1,500 per month for rent and utilities to remain open. With present funds, we can stay open until February.
"We are very much hoping to obtain corporate sponsorship locally to help fund this community project. We have applied for a few grants and hope to continue that process as well."
My Museum is open to the public from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, with hours by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays for other schools, day-care centers and large groups.