What started as a vaudeville and moving pictures theater in 1914 has since blossomed into a space that nurtures and molds young minds today. The primary purpose of the facility is to provide an interactive space that encourages discovery and exploration among children kindergarten through fifth grade to engage and foster their interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and arts education. By recognizing potential in our youth from the start, we create better leaders for our future.
The Orpheum offers several rotating exhibits for children, and the newest astronomy exhibits are scheduled to be revealed on April 28th. Astronaut costumes, asteroid claw machines, and an interactive rocket launcher are just some of the new additions that kids have to look forward to according to the website. For the animal lovers, the Vet Clinic lets children play at being a veterinarian with special equipment to practice and diagnose while the Critter Corner introduces you to new friends of a reptile, amphibian or an arachnid persuasion. In warmer weather, the Dino Dig, Butterfly Garden and Archeology Field Station are other options for visitors. There’s something for everyone at the Orpheum, and the plans shared on Friday night illuminate a strategic approach on how they plan to stay relevant and successful for the next 25 years.
“Our vision is to be a leader in children’s science museum-stimulated family-friendly downtown entrepreneurship and economic development.” Executive Director, Dr. Douglas C. Brauer, discussed three goals that the Orpheum has for succeeding in the future: Continuing to provide uniquely differentiated educational experiences and programs by 2019; being recognized as a top-tier accredited museum in the Midwest by 2020; and to become a self sustaining organization with significant financial reserves. Emphasis was placed on the strategy of their vision and how plans needed to make sense in order to propel them forward for the next 25 years. Another key component in their vision for the future was highlighting their partnership with the City of Champaign and emphasizing a sense of community, since the Orpheum feels that they have an obligation to remain accountable to those that they serve. Orpheum Children’s Science Museum views itself as an acting resource for Champaign and wishes to be utilized as such.
“Exciting things are happening, and they’re happening very quickly,” said Brauer as he closed out the night. Their mission has always been to “inspire, engage, and educate diverse children of all ages through the exploration of the sciences and arts," and I look forward to seeing what Orpheum Children’s Science Museum has planned for the future and how they will further impact the community.