After over fourteen years of fundraising, creation and realization, the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum has opened its doors to the public.
Championed by the Junior League of Peoria, the mission of Peoria Playhouse is “to provide young individuals with the tools and inspiration they need to become explorers and creators of the world.”
The PlayHouse, targeted to children ages birth to eight, provides yet another family destination for Peoria’s Glen Oak Park, which is already home to the Peoria Zoo and the Luthy Botanical Garden.
JRA (Jack Rouse Associates) provided overall planning, design development, and fabrication and installation project management for Peoria PlayHouse’s 8, 000 square feet of exhibit space. Through the museum’s six exhibit areas, the PlayHouse understands, supports and promotes play in the fullest sense of the word, encouraging imagination and creativity. The PlayHouse also celebrates the past, present and future of the Peoria and Central Illinois communities.
All Constructions Great and Small: Children become construction workers, donning yellow hard hats and belts, and can walk across a musical bridge that spans a faux river on the floor. The smallest builders hammer and play peek-a-boo in the toddler play area, while older children use real tools to build small objects under staff supervision.
Family Farm: The bounty of the harvest finds its way to the table as children discover where many of their favorite foods come from and gain an appreciation for Illinois’ agricultural heritage. The Family Farm invites children to pick vegetables, gather eggs and milk a cow before “buying and selling” their goods at a nearby farm stand.
Sand Porch: Here half the fun of playing in the sand is cleaning up! The enclosed porch is the perfect location for children to dig, build, scoop, pound and sculpt. Once they are done in the sand there is more fun in the vacuum room, where children can brush and suck the sand right off.
By Your River Gently Flowing: Here children can maneuver boats through dams and waterfalls, learn about the animals that populate the Illinois River area and discover how the river is used to transport cargo.
Peoria Then and Now: As children explore a recreation of Peoria through the years, they not only learn about history, they take part in it as well. They can take a “ride” in a train car or dress up in vaudeville clothing and put on shows for their friends. The Peoria of today is represented by the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, or "Sci Lab, " where a number of scientific experiments await.
Motion Commotion: This temporary exhibit teaches children about the science of the six simple machines, using a ball exhibit as a teaching tool. The permanent gallery that houses the exhibit will be updated with fresh content approximately every six months, providing reasons for families to return again and again.
In addition to these exhibits, three tot areas located throughout the museum will feature toys, books and places to crawl, enabling parents to stay with younger children as their older children play nearby.
The Peoria PlayHouse has helped repurpose a building from 1894 into an attraction designed to delight families for generations to come.
“The staff of the PlayHouse recognize that a great children’s museum experience is not contained within the museum building, ” said Rebecca Shulman Herz, Director of Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum. “We understand that the museum is a catalyst, and we want visitors to leave the PlayHouse with the urge to explore the world around them.”
Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum is located at 2218 North Prospect Road, Peoria, Illinois USA. For more information on Peoria PlayHouse, please visit http://www.peoriaplayhouse.org or call (309)-323-6900.