Lakeview Museum enthralls kids

There’s plenty of hands-on exhibits to keep them engaged


Admittedly, Peoria was never on my list of "must-see" places. But that's only because I had never heard of the Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences.

This gem of a museum claims to be the largest private museum outside Chicago and my kids found plenty to keep them enthralled during our short visit.

My daughter, the budding oil painter, wandered among the art and spent more than half an hour making her own art at the Pin Wall, a life-size version of those desktop pin cushions that allow you to make fingertip designs when you ought to be working.

My 12-year-old son, meanwhile, busied himself among the interactive science exhibits in the Discovery Center and marveled over the tornado cannon that shoots a pencil through a block of wood to demonstrate the power of tornado-propelled debris in a storm.

This little museum is on a growth trajectory that will see it merge with a history museum, a regional museum and an African-American museum into a new as-yet-unnamed museum that will be housed in a bigger riverfront space in downtown Peoria by the end of the decade.

The move will mean bigger space, which will mean a bigger sun anchoring what the museum already boasts (and the Guinness Book of World Records confirms) is the world's biggest model of the solar system. The current sun, painted on the eastern wall, is 36 feet across, so the scale model puts the 4-inch Earth 1.2 miles away and the .75-inch Pluto 40 miles away in Kewanee.

When the new building opens, the sun is expected to be almost three times as big, which means Pluto could end up somewhere in Chicago (and, yes, Pluto will remain, although its sign is being rewritten to note that it now is a dwarf planet). Pick up a map of the solar system and look for the planets on your way home.

Cindy Richards

Kids Eat Chicago

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