JRA behind US$8m Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum

by Tom Anstey | 18 Jun 2015

Jack Rouse Associates (JRA) have provided overall planning, design development, and fabrication and installation project management for the development of the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, in Peoria, Illinois, which has taken 14 years to realise since the project's inception.

With the mission to “provide young individuals with the tools and inspiration they need to become explorers and creators of the world”, the PlayHouse is aimed at children from 0 to 8-years-old and offers a family destination alongside Peoria’s existing zoo and Luthy Botanical Garden at Glen Oak Park.

The 8,000sq ft (743sq m) exhibit space is divided into six areas, with each offering imagination and creativity through play in a different way.

In the PlayHouse’s construction exhibit, children will don hard hats and tool belts, taking up the role of a builder. For the youngest children, they can hammer and play peek-a-boo in the toddler play area, while older children use real tools to build small objects under staff supervision.

The Family Farm exhibit offers the chance for kids to gain an appreciation of Illinois’ agricultural heritage. In the area, children can pick vegetables, gather eggs and milk a cow before “buying and selling” their goods at a nearby farm stand.

The enclosed Sand Porch is an area for children to dig, build and sculpt using sand before they enter the vacuum room, where giant vacuums are used to brush and suck excess sand off.

Visitors will get the opportunity to manoeuvre boats through dams and waterfalls in the By Your Rover Gently Flowing exhibit, while learning about the animals that populate the Illinois River area and how the river is used to transport cargo.

The fifth part of the PlayHouse is an exhibition exploring Peoria through the years. Kids can partake in historical recreations, take a “ride” in a train car, and will have the opportunity to dress up in vaudeville clothing and put on shows. Peoria Then and Now also includes the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, or "Sci Lab," where a number of scientific experiments will be on show.

Finally, the Motion Commotion temporary exhibit teaches children about the science of the six simple machines, using a ball exhibit as a teaching tool. The gallery that houses the exhibit will be refreshed twice a year to keep the exhibition list new and exciting.

In addition to the six exhibition areas, three toddler areas around the museum will include toys, books and places to crawl, enabling parents to stay with younger children as their older children play nearby.

The US$8m (€7m, £5m) PlayHouse itself is a repurposed building first opened in 1894. The museum has partnered with Peoria Zoo to offer same-day passes for both attractions at a discounted price.

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Jack Rouse Associates (JRA) have provided overall planning, design development, and fabrication and installation project management for the development of the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum, in Peoria, Illinois, which has taken 14 years to realise since the project's inception. With the mission to “provide young individuals with the tools and inspiration they need to become explorers and creators of the world”, the PlayHouse is aimed at children from 0 to
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The US$8m (€7m, £5m) PlayHouse itself is a repurposed building first opened in 1894 / Jack Rouse Associates
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