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Wonder Works, A Childrens Museum In Oak Park, Secures Major Funding and Will Open May 24

Illinois Facilities Fund Provides $150,000 Low-Interest Loan to Help Museum Reopen

Oak Park, Illinois - May 16, 2003 - Wonder Works, a Childrens Museum in Oak Park, will open its doors Saturday, May 24 in its new home at 6445 W. North Avenue, Oak Park. The museum recently received a $150,000 low-interest loan from the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF), a statewide nonprofit lender, which will enable the museum to finish build out of its 6,400 square-foot space.

Wonder Works, which was known as The Childrens Museum of Oak Park since it was founded in 1991, has been searching for a home since the museum lost its lease in 1995.

Wonder Works will open with four permanent exhibits, a party room and several temporary exhibits. The permanent exhibits are:

  • The Great Outdoors, in which kids can climb a "tree", go camping and explore nature - indoors.
  • Children can pretend to be stars on stage in Lights, Camera, Action! With costume and make up stations and a working video camera, kids will entertain themselves as well as parents.
  • In Build It, children can work with blocks to construct houses, castles or entire towns.
  • North Avenue Art Works will enable kids to paint, draw, sculpt and more while parents see how these skills relate to cognitive growth.

"This is a very exciting time for us. Wonder Works is going to be a terrific educational asset for the city and near west suburbs," says Monica Garcia, executive director. "The museum will offer children and adults a magical environment that will encourage and inspire the development of inquiry, expression and imaginative skills."

In addition to the IFF loan, Wonder Works has received several grants recently, including contributions from The ABC Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities and The Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

The museum also held a number of fundraisers during the winter in conjunction with The Mad Potter Pottery Bar, Chipotle Grill, Whole Foods and the Baehrend family. These events raised more than $10,000 for the museum.

"We are very grateful for the support of the community, and to the Illinois Facilities Fund, for helping pave the way to the museums opening," says John Harris, board president. "This is a new beginning for us, and were going to build from this foundation."

Harris added that the museum hopes to raise an additional $100,000 in the next six months to add two more permanent exhibits.

Wonder Works will have extended hours for its opening weekend. The museum will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 24, Sunday, May 25 and Memorial Day. The museum will normally be closed on Monday and Tuesday and will operate on the following schedule:

    Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person. Children under one and members are free. Memberships start at $50.

The official opening ceremony will take place at noon on Saturday, May 24 at the museum, which is located at 6445 W. North Avenue.

Contact: John Harris, Wonder Works Board President, 312.345.0651