We posted about Urbana's newest children's museum, Spark Museum + Play Cafe, back in March when they had a tentative opening date of mid-May. That has since been adjusted and will officially open June 24th. The address of Spark is 142 Lincoln Square in Urbana.

UPDATE: Here's a press release:

New Children’s Museum Opening in Urbana-Champaign

(Urbana, IL – June 24, 2017)

Spark Museum and Play Café (Spark) will open at Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana, Illinois at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 24.

Spark is a destination for families that combines diversified opportunities including innovation education, social interactions, play, entertainment, and café fare. Spark will exert substantial drawing power to Urbana-Champaign and beyond.

Spark is the first and only establishment in the region that combines active play, education, entertainment, and organic food options for children and families in Champaign County. It will quickly become a destination for play dates, a respite for parents, a place to engage with children and family, and all of the above through special events.

Spark’s primary focus is children's education, play, and healthy cafe options. Spark fills an equally important social need for parents and caregivers. Adults will enjoy free Wi-Fi, magazines, relaxing, socializing with friends, meeting new friends, and café fare.

Spark’s mission is innovation. All exhibits and programming are linked by the common thread of creative thinking and problem solving. Spark exhibits support the active child and curious adult with explorations in color, sound, light, emotion, music, balance, and dramatic play using established old-school practices as well as modern learning techniques. Spark activities challenge and develop children’s creativity, imagination, thinking skills, and social skills.

All visitors will enjoy a safe, clean, non-commercial and climate-controlled environment for children to learn, play and explore. Children will be given opportunities to develop basic motor skills, social skills, creative-problem solving, and self-confidence. Parents and caregivers will enjoy hours of close interaction with their children and other adults in stimulating and stress-free environment that is affordable, accessible and rewarding.

LOCATION

Spark is located in Lincoln Square in Urbana, Illinois. The space offers a barrier free entrance, convenient restrooms, and ADA-compliant ramps. There is ample free parking for patrons. Getting to and from the Museum is easy via automobile, CUMTD, bus, or bicycle.

MEDIA INFORMATION

To tour the museum, schedule interviews,  or obtain additional information please contact:

Sonya Darter, Executive Director, sparkmuseumcafe@gmail.com, (217) 721.8162

Megan Gillette, Associate Director, megan@lumen.events, (217) 649.8999

LEADERSHIP

Sonya Darter, Executive Director

Ms. Darter has over 20 years’ experience in not-for-profit management, museum leadership, interactive and education events, exhibit design, and annual strategic and creative planning. Sonya has worked in multiple local museums and looks forward to serving and playing with community members at Spark Museum + Play Café. Additionally, Sonya has worked with Lumen Events on event management and planning services for corporate, private, and public events. Over the last several years, Ms. Darter enjoyed facilitating the implementation of transportation-related innovations to a national audience.

Megan Gillette, Associate Director

Ms. Gillette has a multi-disciplinary background in event management, graphic and environmental design, marketing, retail sales, and strategic re-branding of real estate properties. She is the creative force behind re-branding Lincoln Square Mall and The Prairie Glass House. Megan is contributing her expertise and skills towards Spark Museum + Play Café. Ms. Gillette’s experience also parlays on a personal level with weddings, corporate events, trade shows, and private parties.

ABOUT CHILDREN’S MUSEUMS

As stated in The Case for Children's Museums developed by the Association of Children's Museums, children's museums are unique places that bring children, families, and communities together for quality interaction. Offering lifelong learning opportunities for audiences as tender as newborns, children's museums are vital cultural institutions.  Grounded in well-established pedagogy, children's museums are leading a movement that combines specific learning objectives with play in informal learning environments. As highly desirable meeting places and as proponents of play, children's museums bring a world of possibilities to families who want the best for their children.

Photograph credit for all images: © 2017 Leslie Lewis