NEW LENOX, Ill. – KidsWork Children’s Museum, the only children’s museum in Will County, is moving from its current location in Frankfort to New Lenox. The Village of New Lenox announced its partnership with the non-profit museum Friday.
The new museum will be located in a 12,000 square foot building at the entrance of the Commons area, adjacent to the New Lenox Public Library, and will include a 4,200 square foot outdoor interactive play and picnic area for families. The museum is projected to cost $4 million, with construction starting in June 2023 and an opening in spring 2024.
The KidsWork Children’s Museum Board President, Belinda Basso, expressed excitement about the new chapter for the museum in a letter to the community, while also expressing disappointment that they were unable to secure a partnership with the Village or Park District of Frankfort. The museum board spent several years trying to align themselves with Frankfort, but the opportunity to partner with the museum was declined. Basso noted that the museum has grown to a size where a volunteer-only board is no longer the right fit.
“As a Frankfort resident, I really wanted to keep the museum in Frankfort.” KWCM Board President Belinda Basso wrote in a letter to the community Friday. “We communicated with the Village and the Park Districts. In the end, moving to a space that Is nearly double our current size, with an additional outdoor space, under the umbrella of the Village of New Lenox was too good to pass up.”
While the move is exciting for New Lenox, it leaves Frankfort residents heartbroken. The museum has been operating since 2007 and attracts nearly 40,000 visitors per year. The Frankfort Park District Board expressed disappointment at the potential move, recognizing the value of the museum to the community. The museum provides a quality destination to the downtown area, generating economic tourism. The Park District had past discussions with the museum regarding partnering together, but was unable to secure the facility prior to it being sold.
The Frankfort Park District had a referendum on the 2022 ballot to increase funding for park operation and maintenance, but voters did not support the additional funding.
The new museum is expected to attract visitors from all over Will County and beyond, providing a quality destination for families to learn and play. While the move is bittersweet, it marks a new chapter for the KidsWork Children’s Museum, and the community is excited to see what the future holds.
The KidsWork Children’s Museum at 11 S White Street features two floors of interactive educational exhibits that are designed for children aged 2 to 8 years old but can be enjoyed by people of all ages. As a non-profit organization, KidsWork provides daily fun, special events, programming, and activities to visitors. The museum is also open for hosting birthday parties and field trips.