About this time last year, my Facebook page went crazy when the DuPage Children’s Museum suffered a major flood that forced the museum to close for what ended up being nine months. I live in DuPage County, so many of my Facebook friend moms panicked that the wintertime staple wouldn’t be available for their stir-crazy kiddos just when they needed it the most.
Well, thanks to the temporary location in the Westfield Fox Valley Mall and some creative programming, we all weathered the storm of a DCM-less existence. But as we face yet another Chicago winter, the good news is that DuPage Children’s Museum is fully back in action – and families will love the new-and-improved nature of the already beloved museum.
One of the major highlights is the just-relaunched AWEsome Air (formerly AirWorks), which just opened on Dec. 18. Kids will love the wind tunnel, where they can experiment with pinwheels, streamers, foam discs and other fun objects – or just get blown away. There are also Whirligigs, Air Tubes, Wind Fountains and a Power Tower, the impressive Airway Jungle that replaces old favorite Amazing Airways, and a highpoint for active kids who like to jump, Stomp Launchers.
On deck for reimagining is Waterways, which will become AWEsome Water later in 2016. But in the meantime, families can still enjoy the temporary water tables and bubbles galore – including the chance to stand inside a giant bubble (a plus for my 3- and 6-year-old nephews, who dubbed it, appropriately enough, “awesome”).
Of course, DCM has a variety of other interactive exhibits, now all a fun blend of reimagined favorites and new elements that will quickly become kids’ must-dos. Make it Move teaches basic elements of physics, Creativity Connections explores the senses, Build It lets kids create using real tools, and Math Connections makes even a self-proclaimed math-hater like myself re-evaluate that stance. The best part of all of it? Your kiddos will be learning without even realizing it!
There’s enough to do at the bright and sunny museum that you may stay longer than originally planned – we logged a solid 3 ½ hours and easily could have spent even more time. If that’s the case for you, The S.M.A.R.T. Café is liable to become your best friend. The café, located on the lower level of the museum, serves a variety of healthy, yet kid-friendly, food at truly affordable prices. The kids chowed down on mac and cheese while we adults enjoyed the more sophisticated sandwiches and soups on offer. And if you’d rather brown-bag it, there is a room available for that purpose.
As my Facebook freak-out demonstrated last winter, the DuPage Children’s Museum is a staple for many families in DuPage County and beyond. And I’m happy to report that it will continue to be so in its new-and-improved form for this cold winter and many other seasons to come.