The Children’s Discovery Museum (CDM) won an Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) Award of Excellence for its new “Healthy Me” exhibit. IAM announced the honor Thursday, March 10 during its annual awards ceremony, held virtually over Zoom.
Museum Executive Director Beth Whisman says the award is “a great honor and triumph” for museum staff, local healthcare partners and the CDM Foundation Board following two years of limited operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“’Healthy Me’ was created by our community, for our community, during a time of unprecedented challenges in both the healthcare and museum fields,” Whisman explained. “Of course, the pandemic is precisely what made the themes and content of this exhibit all the more poignant and essential.”
Opened to the public in May of 2021, “Healthy Me” was developed over two years in collaboration with local healthcare experts from OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Carle BroMenn Medical Center and many local public health and pediatric organizations.
Located on the first floor of the museum, the 1,000-square-foot exhibit includes immersive scenic elements, vivid interpretive graphics, and hands-on interactives. A recreated doctor’s office, dental chair and ambulance create ample opportunity for role play, which can alleviate anxieties children commonly experience in healthcare settings.
“The power of play takes on a critical role as we help children establish a lifelong expectation for access to health care and self-advocacy with their caregivers,” Whisman said. “We are grateful and proud to have our ‘Healthy Me’ exhibit recognized by IAM for its value and relevance to the children, families, and communities we serve.”
Museum staff worked remotely with Luci Creative in Lincolnwood, Illinois. to design and develop the final exhibit content while Ravenswood Studio, Inc. fabricated and installed the work. Museum staff also built and installed the technology components with Exhibit Manager John Dolan and Exhibit Tech Joe Pettinger, adding thoughtful touches of “real-world” technology, such as a telehealth station and a fully functional handwashing station.
“Healthy Me” replaced the former “Kids Medical Center” exhibit, which dated to the building’s opening in 2004. It was fully funded by the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation, dozens of exhibit donors and the annual Doctors in Concert fundraiser. Lead donors included OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center, OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, and Carle BroMenn Medical Center.
To learn more about the services Ravenswood Studio provided for this project, visit our Projects Page.