Discovery museum

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

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – For a family taking a vacation, there is always the question “What about the children?” What will they do?”

In Normal mode, just take the kids where they want to go. The sound of kids playing, exploring and learning might 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 rail depot, is home to all kinds of exploration.

Beth Whisman, executive director of the Children’s Discovery Museum, said the building was built with children in mind.

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

COVID has not been kind to Normal’s Discovery Museum. It took a big financial hit and a lot of the part-time staff were made redundant.

Those who are still working have put together 12,000 activity kits for children trapped at home during the pandemic. The hours have been shortened and since the majority of the museum’s clients are under 12 years old, wearing a mask is compulsory.

There are some 600 children’s discovery museums across the country. Each has a regional specialty. In Normal, it is agriculture.

Other Illinois regional discovery museums 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 kids be kids for a while, and sometimes they allow adults to be kids for a while as well.

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