One of Naperville’s most popular attractions is turning 25. More than 1,800 people showed up at the Dupage Childrens Museum to kick-off their year long celebration.
The dream of two women is all it took to start what would become one of the largest children’s museums in Illinois.
Lifetime educators Dorothy Carpenter and Louise Beem wanted a nearby place for young children to come explore and learn, so the two founded the Dupage Children’s Museum in 1987. Its earliest exhibits were shown out the back of their station wagon.
“We tried setting up in different parts of the county to see if anyone was really interested,” said Beem.
Their mission was to cater to the educational needs of young children through hands on learning, while teaching adults at the same time. Beem says, “It’s the only salvation for this country when we finally realize that if we’re going to change the way people learn in high school, we’ll have to change the way they learn when they’re two.”
In 2001, the museum moved to its present location. Since the beginning developers have worked closely with researchers to find the best ways to tap into the curiosity and creativity of young children. Today, three floors of exhibits engage kids through math, art, and science.
“We’re not trying to create an indoor playground. We are trying to create an educational place that would also help the adults understand how their children learn.” Executive Director of the museum, Susan Broad.
At the 25th birthday party, visitors both young and old enjoyed food and live entertainment outside the museum, while inside they could explore their favorite exhibits.
Doug Merwin traveled with his family from his home in Connecticut for the day and compared Naperville’s children’s museum to the many others he has been to nationwide. “This is the best one that we’ve been to of all the ones that we’ve hit around the country
During the celebration, younger guests could also ride a train, climb aboard the story bus, or touch city trucks.
This milestone marks the first generation of children who grew up going to the museum. They are returning to enjoy the exhibits this time as parents.
The Dupage Children’s Museum’s newest exhibit “Awesome Electricity” has already attracted hundreds of visitors in its first few weeks on display.
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