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Nov 23

Children’s Discovery Museum awarded IDNR grant for Luckey Climber replacement

Posted on November 23, 2020 at 8:55 AM by Wendy Long

For Immediate Release:

                                             CONTACT: Beth Whisman    

                                                    Executive Director



News Release

Children’s Discovery Museum awarded IDNR grant for Luckey Climber replacement

Normal, IL – Nov. 20, 2020 – The Children’s Discovery Museum’s iconic climbing exhibit will be replaced with an updated design and improved materials thanks to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Public Museums Capital Grant Program.

Governor JB Pritzker revealed this week 43 Illinois museums will share $22.8 million in state capital investments to improve their facilities and develop new exhibits. The Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation was awarded $568,700 for the design, fabrication and installation of a new Luckey Climber.  The Foundation will add $10,000 in private funds to help cover demolition costs. The Luckey Climber has been the centerpiece of play for the CDM since it opened its doors in Uptown Normal in 2004. Since then, more than 2 million visitors have climbed, crawled and problem-solved their way through the unique structure.

The updated design will use different materials to introduce a new look to the space, to enhance the sensory experience and to improve exhibit sanitation.

“The design team will use rotationally molded plastic for the climbing platforms versus the current carpeted surfaces,” said Beth Whisman, Executive Director for the Town of Normal Cultural Arts Department and the Children’s Discovery Museum. “We’ve always been vigilant about cleaning our Climber, but COVID-19 presented new challenges regarding speed and ease of cleaning high-touch surfaces in tight spaces. We took this opportunity to rethink several aspects of the exhibit to improve access to play and overall sanitation. This grant will help our museum maintain our reputation for playful learning in a clean and welcoming environment for all.”

The Luckey Climber is suspended from the ceiling of the three-floor building, using steel pipes and cables to create a colorful and elegant work of art as well as a play structure. Concept drawings show multiple levels of brightly colored climbing petals surrounded by cables and a see-through floor and wall. The design will open new spaces for wheelchairs and strollers to access the surrounding area and its exciting views of the floors above and below.

Construction is anticipated within the next two years, depending on the grant agreement and funding cycle.

During the CDM’s ongoing shutdown due to state COVID-19 guidelines, the Museum is re-imagining programs and events into take home kits and offering free resources on its website Families can find a Daily Dose of Play including playful learning activities for different ages, video challenges led by CDM Education staff and a dozen links to help enhance e-learning.

*Below are schematic photos of plans for the new climber.


About the Children’s Discovery Museum  The mission of the Children’s Discovery Museum is to inspire the love of learning through the power of play. The Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation exists to support the mission and vision of the Museum through raising funds and awareness in the community at l. To learn more visit, Like us on Facebook, follow @DiscoveryMuseum on Twitter, and follow @cdmnormal on Instagram.   #CDMPowerofPlay 
Luckey Climber Design Concept 2

Luckey Climber Design Concept