On a Sunday in early January 2015 when the Naperville, IL DuPage Children’s Museum was closed and the weather was frigid, a pipe on the third floor burst, sending thousands of gallons of water cascading into the two floors below and ruining many of the existing exhibits.
This fall, eight months after the flood and with help from many different teams, the Museum reopened better than ever, with redesigned and reimagined exhibits to serve the Museum’s audience.
In the first days following the flood, the Museum’s staff went into motion immediately to save what exhibits they could and to mitigate any additional damage due to mold and mildew. That’s when Cricket Brooks, the Museum’s senior exhibits manager at the time, called Chicago Scenic, first for urgent help in assessing value for the insurance claims, and then to remove exhibits. Later, Chicago Scenic Senior Project Manager Jim Mallerdino and Chicago Scenic crews would work with Brooks and designers Peter and Sharon Exley from Chicago design firm ArchitectureisFun on the accelerated design-build process.
“Early on, Cricket and I walked through the museum many times and I began spreadsheets to value the damaged exhibits. In March we began removing those exhibits we thought could be salvaged,” said Mallerdino, “and moved them to Chicago Scenic’s shop to rebuild and repair.”
While that repair work was ongoing, the Museum moved into temporary donated quarters in Aurora’s Fox Valley Mall so the Museum could continue to serve its audience. Work continued at a fast pace in preparation for the Museum’s projected Fall 2015 opening.
“As our crew began to finish refurbishing pieces, we’d store them at CSSI, and start up on the next section,” Mallerdino said. “In August, we began to install pieces as they were completed, working against our September deadline.”
The result is 7,000 sq. ft. of popular exhibits comprised of a newly designed and refurbished “Make it Move” exhibit, the new “Creativity Connections”, and the new “Big Lawn” space with rolling ‘hills’ that children can slide down (see photo at right). Other new exhibits include the Pyramid Interactive, the decorative craft area Papel Picado, and a restful book nook with ‘quilted’ floor.
The exhibits also include the rebuilt Construction House (shown at right) where children learn construction techniques in supervised play, and the aquarium found in the “Little Explorers” area.