By highlighting the goings-on in the community of Joliet, The Joliet Area Historical Museum scans the entirety of American history from the perspective of the town's inhabitants. Housed inside the former Ottawa Street Methodist Church, multimedia exhibits artfully assembled from audio-visual displays, touch screens, and life-size models illustrate the stories plucked from the eventful timelines of the town and its people. Occupying two full stories, permanent exhibit The Soaring Achievements of John C. Houbolt honors the life and work of former resident Dr. Houbolt, who had a primary role in NASA's race to the moon. The exhibit's life-size Lunar Lander even allows guests to step inside and glimpse the accommodations and controls, revealing a control panel more complicated than a single button labeled "Go to Moon." In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also keeps an active calendar full of special events; check the schedule for a complete list of programming.
In 1987, Louise Beem and Dorothy Carpenter were early-childhood-education specialists. Based on their combined experience—gained from teaching preschool, founding the College of DuPage's early-childhood-education program, and being grandmothers—the two friends felt that traditional methods of teaching youngsters were less than optimal at the time. Their brainchild, the DuPage Children's Museum, began that same year. The pair designed the museum's colorful exhibits to incorporate interactive and open-ended elements, which they believed more closely matched the way kids learn and naturally process information, a discovery they say has now been corroborated by findings in neuroscience research.
In that vein, the three-story museum engages young neurons with interactive art, math, and science-themed attractions. Giving little hands the chance to explore, the AWEsome Electricity exhibit bridges the gap between the electric-powered gadgets and lights families use every day to where all that nonbreakfast-based energy comes from. Kids learn how electricity gets from one place to another and what its basic units are while at play in the museum's signature hands-on spaces. Elsewhere, the Young Explorers exhibit is designed for children aged 2 and under, who develop math skills by learning concepts such as sorting and patterning and express their creativity by experimenting with color and light.
In 1961, 30 artists banded together to form the Naperville Art League in the hopes of nurturing community appreciation of arts and culture. The optimistic, determined bunch gathered in the basement of the First National Bank of Naperville and held art classes in their own homes, not annexing an official space until 1978. Today, a group of painters, photographers, and sculptors carries on the tradition of interartist camaraderie and education in better-equipped digs. A spacious gallery hosts art shows, as well as a monthly exhibit of members' work created around a theme, such as Fabulous Fakes or Changing Lanes. Artists also infect the community with a passion for the arts by teaching classes for adults and children. In addition to traditional styles such as oil painting and pen drawing, artists acquaint groups with esoteric art forms such as mosaics, needle felting, or collaging shredded bank statements.
Showcasing local and international artwork, Collector's Choice Art Gallery stocks a wealth of prints, original work, and sculpture in its combination gallery and frame design studio. Solace-seeking apartment decorators find eclectic accents in 700 stock fine art prints and posters, including Greg Stocks's landscapes, the watercolor stylings of Marilyn Simandle, or the arboreal imaginings of painters Chris Donovan and Marysia Burr, both known for their classical portraits of nude Ents. Collectors can adopt lonely paper or canvas mini prints smaller than 8"x10" ($9), small-size posters at 16"x20" ($20), and full-size printed prizes ($40–$60).
Armed with frames spanning the gamut from classical to trendy, Boulevard Fine Art’s picture wranglers enhance and protect artwork through custom framing services. Customers can encase celebrities under glass without the need for strategically poked air holes by framing favorite posters ($40–$60 for 20"x24") or place childhood finger paintings in standard 8"x10" frames ($15+) that preserve prodigious pre-K artifacts. Original paintings find new homes with canvas services, including stretching, framing, and labor ($65–$85 for 24"x30"), upping the artwork ante with unique, hand-finished frames from Italy, Germany, and Peru. With more than 40 years of combined framing experience, the staff helps customers make aesthetically minded decisions or tell when paintings are about to molt.
Throughout the Halloween season, mad scientists overrun a section of SciTech Hands On Museum to construct a haunted laboratory. The 20- to 25-minute, ghoul-infested journey hijacks 200 of the museum's interactive exhibits and exploits the brainpower of the museum's Fermilab physicist founders to create an experience as terrifyingly educational as a pre-calc class taught by a wild boar. Adults and older children brave enough to step across the spooky threshold will encounter wispy tendrils of smoke and fluttering strobe lights winding up and down the museum's two floors. Bubbling beakers, freakish goblins, the George Foreman Grill, and other byproducts of experiments gone horribly awry loom in the museum's shadowy corridors. Once troops have braved the Haunted Museum, the main museum awaits, where guests can interact with noncursed exhibits or slip into the gift shop or café.