SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) — Saturday was the grand opening for the Kidzeum, which is Springfield first kid's museum of Health and Science. The $7.5 million project has finally come to fruition after over a decade of work.
"To actually see it, and it's real and exists, is so exciting,” Kidzeum Board President, Rachael Thomson, said.
Thomson was a regular local mom with an extraordinary idea she came up with a long time ago. She said she was with other moms and looking around for fun places to bring the kids around Illinois. That’s when they decided to create a kids museum in Springfield.
"When you see the kids’ faces,” she said. “The 14 years of work makes it all worth it."
Parents, like Stephanie Forgas of Riverton, said the Kidzeum entertains, educates, and promotes exercise.
"Opening their minds,” Forgas said. “And helping them learn different things that parents can't explore for them."
When families come in the front door of the Kidzeum, they immediately are welcomed by a one-of-kind structure called “Active Alex."
"It's a 40-foot-tall, 3-story child, that you can climb into and around to learn about the entire body,” Thomson said. “And that's what you see and it's just very exciting."
It's the only one like it in the world. Saturday, there were hundreds gathered for Kidzeum's Grand Opening.
"It's really, really busy,” 12-year-old Shae Ayers said. “There's a lot of people."
Thomson said the Kidzeum fills a void in Springfield. Now, it’s a space meant to bring kids and families to downtown and many parents said they’re grateful.
"I just want to say, ‘thank you’ to everybody that made this happen,” Forgas said. “This is a really great resource."
It took three visits to city council to talk over agreements and financing, over 600 donors, new friends and new supporters before Thomson was successful in opening the Kidzeum.
"Today was the first time I was able to say I was the board president of Kidzeum and it actually exists,” Thomson said.
The Kidzeum is open every day except Mondays. It's $9 to get in, with discounts for seniors and the military. Children under two get in for free.