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Oct 04

Museum Opens New Luckey Climber Exhibit

Posted on October 4, 2023 at 3:37 PM by Leah Rainey

Normal, Ill.– Oct. 4, 2023 –The Children’s Discovery Museum’s highly anticipated new Luckey Climber exhibit is officially open for playtime.

Museum Members, Play Pass holders and Museums for All pass holders are enjoying a “play first” preview opportunity through Sunday, Oct. 8. Then, a public grand opening is planned for Monday, Oct. 9, including a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. and a free memento for visitors with paid admission (while supplies last).

Museum Executive Director Beth Whisman says, “We are excited to finally share this long-awaited and spectacular experience with our community.”  guests enter the new Luckey Climber

The Luckey Climber—a stunning, open-air suspension of black and white molded plastic petals and steel cables, surrounded by a glass floor—cost $894,000 and took over 24 months to complete. It spans more than two stories and can light up with embedded color-changing LEDs.

The project was funded by a $568,000 Public Museums Capital Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and $326,000 in additional philanthropic support from the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation.

It replaces the Museum’s previous climber—original to the building—which served more than 2 million visitors over its 19-year lifespan. Both climbers were designed by Luckey LLC, a Connecticut-based firm that creates children’s climbing sculptures for institutional and commercial clients all over the world, including museums, sports stadiums, amusement parks and other venues.

“The Luckey Climber challenges children to use their gross motor skills as it sparks their sense of adventure and informs their ability to distinguish between perceived risk vs. actual danger. These lessons are a vital part of young development, helping a child navigate and share space as they explore, and to harness their strength and coordination in new ways. The glass floor adds an optional thrill, and it extends the exhibit’s suspended sensation to include all visitors regardless of their mobility,” Whisman notes.

The cable mesh and surrounding glass floor also provide increased visibility for staff and caregivers looking on to encourage little climbers. Whisman adds, “We have already seen adults and children playing and engaging in new ways as they circle the Luckey Climber together.”

The alternating black and white ‘chessboard’ design is unique to the Children’s Discovery Museum.

“It’s a fresh, beautiful and functional design for a whole new generation of climbers. We can’t wait to share its artful, illuminated side with the rest of the neighborhood as it offers a colorful display even when we’re closed. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that play is at the heart of our community -- for all ages.”