Aurora's SciTech Hands On Museum To Permanently Close
"We quite simply have run out of options for a viable museum location and the associated funding for such a move," an official said.
AURORA, IL — After 34 years in Aurora, SciTech Hands On Museum will shutter its doors on West Benton Street in downtown Aurora, officials announced Wednesday.
Museum executives cited financial struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for the decision.
"It has been a struggle for a space-based, hands-on museum serving the STEM development of children to work out a financially viable pathway forward coming out of the pandemic," Faith Slowinski, executive director of SciTech, said in a statement.
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Nick Scanlan, SciTech's board president, said they held out closing for "as long as we could" but "quite simply have run out of options for a viable museum location and the associated funding for such a move."
"We had hoped for a shorter closure timeframe, leveraged available resources, and held out as long as we could, but the reality of opening safely and within budget during a pandemic was not able to be realized," he said in a statement.
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While the physical museum will soon be no longer, it's not the definitive end of SciTech. Scanlan said the board is considering "the new realities of a physical space."
Future plans for the museum include retaining resources such as Starlab, a portable planetarium that is a favorite for hands-on curriculum, officials said.
"The pandemic has taught us lessons about the new realities of physical space," Scanlan said. "Our board is currently refining plans to reimagine SciTech, not so much as a permanent physical place to visit, but as a STEM education resource, provider, and convener."
He continued: "Right now, we are looking for partners and innovative opportunities to leverage SciTech's brand and unique assets while strengthening Aurora and the Fox Valley's STEM network moving forward."
Visitors have one more month to stop by SciTech, located at 18 W. Benton St. SciTech will participate in Aurora Downtown's First Fridays offerings by hosting a "Last Look" event from 4-9 p.m. June 3. The public will have the chance to visit for free to explore the museum a final time before doors close.
During the event, remaining items in the gift shop will be half off. From June 6 to June 10, people will have a chance to purchase any items "not moving with SciTech." The sale will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 1-6 p.m. Wednesday.
For a free-will donation, local schools and nonprofits will also have the opportunity to obtain new and gently used STEM and school supplies, according to a news release. This will take place from 4-7 p.m. May 20 and from 9 a.m. to noon May 21. Those with questions can contact Faith Slowinski at email@example.com or 630-859-3434.