Kidzeum concept closer to reality

By Alex Davis |

Published 06/27 2014 01:55PM

Updated 06/27 2014 01:59PM

SPRINGFIELD -- A project, years in the works, just got a shot in the arm from the state. A children's museum was awarded a $1 million grant. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has more.

The money will make a huge difference. The idea for a health and science museum for kids has been in the works for years.

Now, volunteers say their dream is close to being realized. If you look past the dust, open walls and smell of mold, you can see the potential others see for the Kidzeum concept.

"This is part of a larger effort to help downtown Springfield."

Thanks to a $1 million state grant and TIF money from the city, the Kidzeum of Health and Science has reached the first of its funding goals.

"Right now, we're just at the $5 million mark which is exactly what our exhibit and our building budget is."

All this has been a long time coming since the grant was first approved by the legislature in 2009.

"They kept voting to approve it."

Board member, Rachael Thomson, has been volunteering with Kidzeum since then.

"We started out as a group of parents, educators, medical professionals."

But Thursday, after years of planning and waiting, her dream and the dream of other community members is finally being realized.

"We just really wanted to do something that was important for kids and families and fill the void for education and entertainment need."

Thomson and others believe 100,000 visitors will hit up the museum each year, helping Central Illinois and the state as a whole.

"A $2.3 million economic impact on an annual basis. That's part of a larger effort to aid the revitalization of downtown Springfield."

With the help of state dollars, the group can order the exhibit to be built next month.

"Receiving this grant really puts the Kidzeum in a very stable situation to finish our fundraising goal."

Thomson says they'll need to raise an additional $1 million to cover the first of its operating costs, but, with an end date in mind, she's positive more donors will jump on board. They want to open in the fall of 2015.

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