Friends of BCPA, Children’s Discovery Museum launch major fundraising drives

The Children’s Discovery Museum hopes to raise $350,000 for a new medical exhibit called “Healthy Me!” (From Children’s Discovery Museum Facebook page)


By Howard Packowitz

BLOOMINGTON – Two prominent organizations in the Twin-Cities are kicking off major fundraising drives. One of them aims to encourage the arts, while the other is intended to show kids the doctor’s office is not such a scary place.

Friends of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts is launching a $5 million capital campaign to finish the city’s Creativity Center, which has been about 16 years in the making.

The Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation seeks to raise $350,000 for a new “Healthy Me!” exhibit, which would be located on the first floor of the museum, located in Uptown Normal. It would replace the medical exhibit which was introduced when the museum first opened its doors 15 years ago.

According to a news release, the foundation has raised 60 percent of its fundraising goal thanks to a lead gift from OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center and OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, in addition to many individual donations.

Beth Whisman, the museum’s executive director, said play helps calm fears and anxieties about going to the doctor and dentist. She said the museum staffers are working with local healthcare professionals to make sure the 1,000 square foot exhibit is relevant to what kids experience in the real world.

In Downtown Bloomington, completing the Creativity Center has been a goal since 2003 when the city bought the former Scottish Rite Temple and the 32,000 square foot former medical building on Locust Street.

The $1 million raised so far will pay for roof work, and improving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, all to be done this summer.

Work on other projects, including dance, music, and recording studios, a black box theater, and classrooms will start after Friends of BCPA raise three million dollars.

Friends of BCPA aim to support arts education for at-risk youths and improve accessibility of the arts to the elderly, the disabled, and low-income people.

In the words of Friends of BCPA Board President Vicki Tilton, “When we teach people to create, they are less likely to destroy.”

Howard Packowitz can be reached at


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