2017 is the year of KidsWork Children’s Museum.
As one of the anchors in the Village of Frankfort’s historic downtown business district, it is celebrating the 10th anniversary marking the point when parents, business leaders and educators began meeting with the goal of creating a children’s museum.
“We keep flourishing every year and adding new exhibits,” said Angela Spero, manager of KidsWork Children’s Museum. “We are the only children’s museum in Will County, which is pretty special.”
“I just think it’s a really great place for the surrounding communities to come,” Spero said. “We have a lot museum members, we have a lot of regulars. I feel like the kids do learn a lot from our museum with all of our different exhibits and our programs.”
In 2016, the museum had more than 40,000 people enter the building, Spero said.
“I believe a few years back, we were at about 27,000, so it’s increased considerably,” Spero said.
The KidsWork Children’s Museum works with a number of other local children’s museums to offer a CLIMB Membership. This partnership equips guests with access to visit other participating museums for an annual fee of $135. Those interested can visit the children’s museums in Naperville, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, Rockford and Glenview. They also gain half off admission to more than 100 children’s museums across the nation.
“I definitely think that has helped with our numbers, as well, bringing people in from different communities,” Spero said. “I think we’re growing.”
Spero said the museum has some goals in mind moving forward.
“I think that we just want to keep bringing in new members, keep bringing in people from different communities,” Spero said. “I’m always looking to bring in new programming.”
The museum hosts a number of weekly programs for community youth throughout the fall, winter and spring months, including Friday Fun For Little Ones led by Jan Ricker, assistant manager of KidsWork Children’s Museum.
“I think they enjoy a lot of the things,” she said. “Bringing their little ones to a structured setting to attend class, I have a lot of regulars. They enjoy what I bring to the class each week.”
Other classes held at the museum include Story Time, Sing Song Yoga, Interactive Participatory Musical program and Wild Wednesdays. They’re free for guests to attend, and no preregistration is required.
Spero noted that Wild Wednesdays—which includes themes ranging from mad science to sled dogs—has proven to be hit among the older children since the museum started the program three years ago.
The program allows children to have an interactive opportunity to explore topics they otherwise wouldn’t see at a zoo or anywhere else, she said.
“They’re educating kids about animals and conservation and preservation,” Spero said.
Ricker said while it can get busy at the museum, they must give thanks to its volunteers for their contributions to shaping the visitors’ experience.
“All of our staff, including myself and the manager, work part-time,” she said. “We rely on our volunteers. They’re so good with our visitors.”
Ricker encourages those interested in becoming a volunteer to stop by the museum or visit the website at KidsWorkChildrensMuseum.org.