A kids' firehouse sets the stage for hands-on, imaginative activities at FireZone, where actual firefighters show off fire engines, explain educational displays, and oversee games for kids of all ages. In addition to children’s parties and drop-in play sessions, FireZone runs school field trips, caters to adults with corporate training days, and rents trucks for picnics, parades, and festivals.
The Elmhurst Art Museum displays national shows and the works of deserving regional artists at the historic McCormick House. In addition to unlimited admission, members are granted free access to special exhibitions and sneak previews, as well as permission to rename one work on a napkin during each visit. Specializing in 20th-century American art, the museum seeks to spark creativity and foster sensitivity for fine art in the community through stimulating displays, programs, and mind control.
• For $4, you get two adult admission tickets to the museum (up to an $8 value; museum admission is free on Fridays, and on all days for active armed forces members). • For $15, you get a one-year individual membership (a $30 value).
With more than 23,000 square feet of public space, Kohl Children's Museum gives its young visitors plenty of rooms in which to play. The kid-focused facility houses 16 permanent exhibits for infants and children up to 8 years of age, each filled with hands-on activities designed to encourage learning and exploration.
City on the Move helps children learn about Chicago by challenging them to build city scenes from geometric shapes or crank an electricity-generating wheel to power a pretend John Hancock Center. Kids can follow animal footprints to their source in Nature Explorers, move musical notes to create melodies in Ravinia Festival Music Makers, or explore the rotating temporary exhibits, including Storyland, opening in October. And yet not all the fun is contained inside: the colorful two-acre outdoor Habitat Park encompasses features such as a grassy maze and an interactive sculpture trail.
It was the late 1970s, decades after the Holocaust, but neo-Nazis hadn’t disappeared: they threatened to march in Skokie. Realizing the need to combat this kind of intolerance with education, Chicago-area survivors and their supporters banded together to create the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois. This initiative evolved into the museum which was built to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, educate visitors, and explore the human intolerance that continues to lead to genocide today.
A giant tree spreads its limbs across a softly lit room as soothing forest sounds play. On a child-size stage, kids manipulate controls to flick theater lights on and off. In an art studio stocked with supplies, budding artists make creative messes. This is all taking place in Wonder Works' 6,400-square-foot space. Children aged 8 and younger explore six hands-on exhibits that help them express their creativity and develop mental and social skills. Wonder Works is able to cater to children with special needs.
The children's museum also hosts school field trips, year-round music and art classes, as well as special events including a children's music concert series, African American History Month, and the paleontology-centric Dino Works. In addition, an outdoor organic garden onsite gives kids an opportunity to marvel in the great outdoors without having to pay tolls to riddle-spouting trolls.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is a Chicago-area nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of one of the most influential architects of the modern era. Wright's Oak Park Home and Studio was built between 1889 and 1898 and served as the architect's workshop, in which he experimented with new design concepts, including the groundbreaking prairie style, as well as the lesser-known tiger style and mantis style. The Robie House, a Hyde Park Wright project designed for Chicago businessman Frederick C. Robie, is considered a Wright masterpiece and a centerpiece of modern architecture. All excursions are led by the Preservation Trust's expertly trained guides, who stand ready to impart bits of knowledge, answer tough questions, and pause for pictures with celebrity pillars and buttresses.