Kidzeum on road to reopen

After more than a year of closure, museum will open in July

click to enlarge A scene from inside the museum of its "healthy community" exhibit. - CREDIT: KIDZEUM.ORG
Credit: kidzeum.org
A scene from inside the museum of its "healthy community" exhibit.

The city's only children's museum is planning its return. The Kidzeum of Health and Science was forced to shutter early on in the pandemic. Children's museums in particular were hit hard by COVID-19, as the exhibits are hands-on. The museum has remained closed. But it will reopen with weekend hours, beginning in July, with an opening date to be announced soon, according to a news release sent to Illinois Times on May 25.

"Kidzeum is poised to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic better, stronger and more resilient than it was before, thanks to passionate people who believe in what Kidzeum can mean for Springfield," said Karen Witter, Kidzeum board president, in the release. The museum also announced that Leah Wilson will return as its executive director. Wilson had previously announced she would be stepping down from the role, as she had accepted a remote position with a university in Iowa.

"The COVID-19 pandemic forced so many of us to make difficult personal and professional decisions," said Wilson in the release. "This is indeed the little museum that could. I'm so impressed and delighted by the incredible work of the board to rally support for Kidzeum, and I look forward to leading it forward."

Kidzeum, which first opened in July 2018, has used COVID-19 relief funds to stay afloat over the past year. An anonymous donor also recently pledged $100,000 each year for five years. "We are grateful for this donation, as it helps demonstrate that Kidzeum is a valued asset in our community," said Witter. "We hope it will also encourage others to invest in the future of Kidzeum."

Kidzeum is working on partnering with the Springfield public school district. Its goal is to begin a program this fall where second graders attend the museum for a two-week program focused on science, technology, engineering and math lessons. When the museum reopens, it will also bring back an exhibit on "bees, butterflies and blooms." The exhibit has a focus on Illinois wildlife and preservation. There are various opportunities to volunteer with the museum, more information about that can be obtained by emailing: info@kidzeum.org.

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illinoistimes.com.

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