Discovery museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum meets the challenges of COVID-19 | Local News


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NORMAL – The Children’s Discovery Museum has raised $ 6,000 through its first-ever craft beer bingo, as part of the creative approach officials say they need to take due to the challenges of COVID-19.

Museum leaders are also pushing to change the language of state guidelines that clamp down on interactive exhibits, arguing for contactless options.

The month-long bingo fundraiser replaced the Medici Craft Beer and Jazz Fair to support local breweries and raise funds for the museum. The annual event typically raises thousands of dollars to support scholarships for museum day camps and reduced admission for families in need, but it was canceled due to the pandemic.

“I think people were really excited to have an excuse to visit the different breweries,” said Beth Whisman, director of the Department of Normal Cultural Arts and the Children’s Discovery Museum. “It was fun; it allowed us to focus on something positive.”

In July, the museum, 101 E. Beaufort St., sold $ 15 bingo cards featuring participating breweries in which 500 attendees won stamps for visiting each business and making a purchase. The game completed the loss of the festival, and the museum plans to hold it every year.

“We really think we reached out to a different demographic of people who were die-hard about visiting craft breweries,” Whisman said. “It made us feel like part of the community in a whole different way.”

The museum has been closed since mid-March, and had to stay creative to raise funds and offer its regular family events. Unfortunately, Whisman said, the language used in Illinois’ restoration plan “unintentionally closed all exhibits at children’s museums and science centers.”

According to the Illinois State Phase 4 guidelines, state museums can operate at 25% occupancy, but all hands-on or interactive exhibits must be completely closed.

The Children’s Discovery Museum is working with other children’s museums and science centers to push the state to change the language of the plan, which Whisman says was written “through the eyes of an adult.”

Changing the language of the guidelines to allow interactive “contactless” exhibits would allow the museum to reopen once it is deemed safe to do so in McLean County. Whisman cited the piano on the floor as an example of a non-contact interactive exhibit.

“We have members who just want to be able to get out of the house and do something that they trust and that is safe,” she said. “In this particular case, we think that (interactive) word is too broad because it closes things that absolutely could work safely.”

In the meantime, the museum plans to host fundraisers and family events including Doctors in Concert on September 18, an annual fundraiser that will be broadcast live; Day of Play on September 26, which will feature a fun family activity kit designed to bring families in and out of screens; and the Pushcart Derby at Rivian Automotive on October 3, where teams can build their own carts for racing.

The Children’s Museum store is now open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Families can purchase educational games and STEAM kits.

Noon Year’s Eve a hit at the Children’s Discovery Museum

Photos: Noon Year’s Eve a hit at the Children’s Discovery Museum

Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.

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