While much of the activism and protesting today is centered on protecting and promoting teens, Peggy Montes, the founder and president of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum says there should be more attention given to the young children, if we really want to change their future. “That’s why I started the museum so that we can lay the proper foundation for our children ages 3-9,” Montes said. It is the first and only African-American children’s museum in the country.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, in conjunction with Black History Month, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum will present “Preserving Our Children’s Futures” as they celebrate 18 years of educating young children on the accomplishments and contributions African Americans have made to society. In addition to the museum’s exhibit children will enjoy crafts, face painting, music and storytelling. This event is open to the public from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the museum, 9301 South Stony Island Ave., in Chicago. The admission is $5.00 per person except for members, who can attend at no cost.
In keeping with its theme, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum will feature three unique hands-on exhibits that focus on African American inventors, S.T.E.M. and health.
The first exhibit is called “African American Inventors Changing People Lives!” This exhibit focuses on the contributions that African Americans have made in the food products industry, medical and technology inventions. Children and adults will learn about inventors like Lonnie Johnson, who invented the super soaker water gun. Johnson, along with Madame C. J. Walker, George W. Carver, Donna Augusta and Granville Woods are just a few of the many African American inventors the children become aware of when they visit the museum.
S.T.E.M., which is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is the basis for the newest exhibit, “S.T.E.M. Rocks.” Montes said they wanted the little children exposed to the whole concept of S.T.E.M. so they can understand how S.T.E.M. impacts every part of their lives. Then, as these children mature they will think about the importance of mathematics and science in terms of where the jobs are and where they are going to be in the future.
The last exhibit is “You Are What You Eat.” This exhibit is patterned after First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy initiative and about movement. The focus is to teach children how to have a healthy and active lifestyle. Not only do they learn about making healthy choices in their diet, they also learn the importance of being physical. There are little treadmills, walkers and a trampoline. They also learn about African Americans in the food industry.
According to Peggy Montes, “The exhibits really open the minds of children and adults in terms of what we have been doing all these years.”
Since opening their doors on February 21, 1998 and its subsequent move to its own building at 93rd and Stony Island, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum’s success has continued. Scheduled tours during the week from schools all over the region have become the norm, as the museum serves children from a variety of economic, social and cultural backgrounds. This year’s Black History Month is completely booked.