The three-story, interactive exhibit of the human body that will be installed at the Kidzeum of Health and Science in downtown Springfield will be called “Active Alex.”
Three-year-old Holden Cherrone and his family won the naming contest for the exhibit that will include respiratory, skeletal, circulatory, sensory and nervous systems, Mayor Jim Langfelder announced a groundbreaking ceremony for the museum Thursday.
“We feel like it’s important for Springfield and there needs to be more stuff for children to do, especially educational things,” Holden’s dad, Mike Cherrone, said after the ceremony.
The prize for the family is a one-year membership to the children’s museum that’s set to open in 2018.
Funding and planning for the museum has been a more than eight-year process, with many challenges, museum board president Rachael Thomson told the crowd. She highlighted donors who contributed to the $6.9 million needed to start construction, including kids who gave their birthday money, families, businesses and local and state governments.
“If it hadn’t been for contributors and donors who’ve been patient to stick with us, we wouldn’t be here today,” Thomson said.
The state of Illinois awarded the not-for-profit a $1 million grant, and the city has promised $1.2 million in downtown tax increment financing funds.
HSHS St. John’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital chipped in $1.2 million. Hospital professionals also lent expertise in health and education for planning the more than 100 exhibits to “ensure an ideal learning environment for children of all abilities,” children’s hospital executive director Vernessa Glover said.
“This will be a fun, stress-free and positive experience for so many kids and families in central Illinois,” Glover said.
Just after the remarks, a couple dozen children wearing purple plastic construction hats blew bubbles at the event that closed down part of Adams Street.
Brooke Sibers brought her two cousins, 3 and 7 years old, she was baby-sitting.
Sibers, who works at an elementary school in Petersburg, said she’s excited for the museum to open.
“Springfield really needs something like this,” she said. “It’ll bring families and more tourists.”
Construction is set to begin Wednesday, and the museum is scheduled to open in May 2018.
— Contact Mary Hansen: 788-1528, email@example.com, twitter.com/maryfhansen.