LAKE VILLA – Educators Alison Price and Kathy Goers have been working toward their dream of opening Busy Brains Children’s Museum in Lake County for the last 10 years. Now that they have a building in Lake Villa, they’re closer than ever to achieving that dream. Now they need to raise $3.5 million.
Price, Busy Brains executive director and co-founder, said half of the $3.5 million will be used to open the museum while the other half will be used as a three-year operating reserve.
They’ll aim to raise part of that amount at the fifth annual Busy Brains gala and fundraiser May 9 at Lehmann Mansion.
Greg Mauro, president of Gregory Auto Group, donated the museum’s site and building at 130 Cedar Ave. in Lake Villa, Price said. Nine-thousand-square-feet of the building’s 14,000-square-feet will be renovated during phase I of the building plan.
“Sixty percent of the entire space will be dedicated to exhibits,” she said.
Price, of Grayslake, met Busy Brains co-founder Goers when they were both teaching at now-closed Lincoln Elementary School in Mundelein.
“We spent so much time traveling on field trips to museums in Milwaukee and Chicago and realized there was a need for a children’s museum in Lake County,” Price said.
Kathy Goers, director of education and programming for Busy Brains, said, “It’s a breath of fresh air that we have the building. Soon we’ll have people walking in the door.”
Goers, of Round Lake Beach, said the goal is to open the museum within 18 months to two years
Price said she envisions Busy Brains Children’s Museum as a hands-on learning environment for kids aged 10 and under, with a focus on the arts, science and the environment. Some Busy Brains exhibits will be related to Lake County, Price said.
“Many children’s museums have a water play area where children can learn about floating and sinking. We want to model our [water play area] after the Chain O’Lakes. It will address the ecosystem of the Chain O’Lakes and the [environmental] issues it has,” Price said.
Another potential Lake County focused exhibit will take kids from farm to farmer’s market to learn where food comes from, she said. She said the exhibits will all be aligned to the state’s common core standards, and Lake County teachers will have resources available.
Price said she’s traveled to more than 20 children’s museums across the country, taking inspiration for exhibits.
“As a former teacher, you understand that kids need to learn something from what they’re doing,” she said. “We want every person who comes in the door to see the [museum’s] social and educational value.”
As a mother of four, Price said she also has “mom ideas” going into the museum, such as offering family-friendly hours and parking.
Goers said Busy Brains will have volunteer opportunities for Lake County residents.
“We want this museum to touch Lake County residents of all ages,” Goers said.