Destination Illinois: Normal’s Children’s Discovery Museum offers something for all ages

Destination Illinois

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — For a family taking a vacation, there’s always the question of, “What about the kids? What are they going to do?”

In Normal, just take the kids where they want to go. The sound of children playing, exploring, and learning may just sound like fun, but that’s the idea- one of them, behind the Children’s Discovery Museum.

The three-story facility in downtown Normal, adjacent to the railroad depot, is home to all kinds of exploration.

Beth Whisman, Children’s Discovery Museum Executive Director, said the building was built with kids in mind.

“We’re a location designed for children. All of our exhibits are designed for kids to imagine, play, discover, [and] learn something along the way. I think kids just instinctively know when they come to the Children’s Museum, ‘This is my special place,'” she said.

COVID was not kind to Normal’s Discovery Museum. It took a big financial hit, and much of the part-time staff was laid off.

Those still working put together activity kits-12,000 of them, for kids stuck at home during the pandemic. Hours have been shortened, and because the majority of the museum’s clients are under 12, masks are required.

There are some 600 Children’s Discovery Museum’s around the country. Each has a regional specialty. In Normal, it’s agriculture.

Other regional discovery museums in Illinois are Peoria, Decatur, Galesburg, and Chicago to name a few.

One of the important facts behind these Children’s Museums is that they just let the children be children for a while, and sometimes, they allow the adults to be children for a while also.

“We want our adults to play with the kids while they’re here. All of our exhibits are designed to tolerate adults. And actually, we encourage that, but also, we want families to make lifelong memories here,” said Whisman.

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