EDWARDSVILLE - In its ongoing mission to educate and inspire curiosity in young learners, Edwardsville Children's Museum (ECM) is excited to celebrate the grand opening of its Discovery Garden Expansion on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Following a special ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., the community is invited to explore three new exhibits that honor history, celebrate nature, and set the scene for non-stop fun.

New for 2024 is the Route 66 Roadway. With grants from the Rivers & Routes Tourism Board and the State of Illinois, ECM's Discovery Garden is on track to capture the freedom, adventure, and stories of Route 66 and reimagine them for today's young thrill-seekers:

  • H&F Exteriors Garage - Kids can get their kicks on ECM's min-Mother Road by climbing into pedal cars at the H&F Exteriors Garage, strapping on a helmet, and taking a spin. Inside the Garage, visitors can watch a video on loop that shows the building's construction, and starting this summer, check out a new car repair exhibit.
  • Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Station - While cruising the Discovery Garden, young drivers can make a pit stop and "fill up" at the gas station while learning all about Edwardsville's connection to Route 66. Look up to spot the station's green roof, which features a layer of vegetation planted on a waterproof roof system. The green roof, or living roof, boosts biodiversity, improves air quality, and helps the Discovery Garden stay cooler during the summer months.

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In addition, ECM's Peace Garden, located on the front lawn of the Museum, features a labyrinth maze where a friendly minotaur waits amidst the twists and turns, a snake-themed pathway, and a selfie-ready giant metal butterfly embellished with art created by ECM visitors. Of special importance is the new Anne Frank memorial. By peering through the metal window sculpture, guests can observe ECM's chestnut tree, which represents the Franks' only connection to nature while in hiding and a symbol of peace and hope in difficult times.

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"Our Discovery Garden expansion has been a year in the making," said ECM executive director Kristen Fries. "Thanks to the hard work of our partners and the commitment of our incredible sponsors, we've been able to watch everything we imagined come to life just in time for summer. It's our hope that our guests and their families will be able to learn more about our region's history through hands-on play and exploration."

For more information on ECM or its Discovery Garden expansion, please contact Kristen Fries at KFries@edwcm.org or 618.692.2094.

About Edwardsville Children's Museum: Edwardsville Children's Museum (ECM) is committed to stimulating curiosity and cultivating learning at the age of wonder. ECM believes that kids of all ages learn through discovery and hands-on play. All exhibits and programs are designed to build happy and curious learners from ages six months to 60 years. Families are invited to explore ECM's exhibits, discover its seasonal programs, or become members for year-round learning fun. For more information, visit www.edwcm.org.

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