One preschool teacher with a dream and a small group of volunteers offer local children a place to learn, play, create, and discover. The Explore-It-Torium Children’s Museum offers children 10,000 feet of fun inside the historic Carnegie Library building at 244 S. Main Street.
Children from ages two to 12 can go play in the nature gallery, build a race car and race it on track, dress up and perform on a small theater stage and much, much more. The museum also just added a fishing pond and a new tree house reading loft funded by a grant from the Marion Community Foundation.
Kids who sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the activity can find quiet in the sensory room.
“It’s a favorite! Parents love it. Kids enjoy a little downtime after all of the stimulation of active play,” said Cindy Binns, museum director. “They relax by watching the moving fish in the bubble tubes and playing with a variety of fidget toys.”
The museum hosts special events. Over a recent Saturday, 200 people came to have Cocoa and Cookies with Santa. At Elf Camp in November, kids made and wrapped gifts while their parents went shopping. Marion Noon Kiwanis sponsored both of these events and members of the Marion Harding Key Club volunteered.
Volunteers of all ages served up the cocoa-washed dishes and played the roles of elves to the delight of these young attendees.
The museum also offers a fun affordable option for a child’s birthday party. One local mother had her child’s second birthday party there.
“The kids absolutely loved it because there was so much for them to do. It was super easy for me as a host because I didn’t have to plan games and activities—the thoughtfully and creatively themed rooms already had everything the kids could need to stay occupied,” said Chelsea Glezen. “Not only was this party planning almost effortless, but it was also the most affordable place I could find in the area to host the event that included admission for everyone in attendance. I invited Greyson’s whole daycare class. The Explore-It-Torium runs on volunteers and so that keeps the cost of admission low. Next time you need a place to host your child’s birthday party, give the Explore-It-Torium a call!”
Volunteers do everything from helping kids make crafts to set up and host special events to cleaning up and putting away the toys. Sheryl Rossi and her twin sister Sharon Lane are among the small group of regular volunteers.
“I am a grandmother and a great-grandmother and I enjoy volunteering at The Explore-It-Torium very much! It gives me a chance to be creative and help the families of the Marion area experience an inexpensive place to go and bond while learning new skills and developing new interests!” Rossi said. “I work full time at Marion Technical College but The Explore-It-Torium allows me to pick my hours and easily give back to my community.”
“Without volunteers, we could not continue to operate,” Binns said. “We really need more to help to keep this fun learning experience available for our community.”
Admission is just $5. Annual memberships and gift memberships are available for a 10% discount right now at www.exploreitmarion.org. Supporters can also donate on the website or donate supplies. Those looking for a fun, affordable stocking stuffer can stop by the museum to purchase craft kits for just $5.
Binns started this nonprofit after winning The Forge business competition in 2017. This labor of love has helped local children spend thousands of hours with hands-on fun, using their imaginations instead of a screen. They also offer field trips and home-school groups by appointment.
For the latest hours, visit the Explore-It-Torium Facebook and Instagram pages. To find more information on volunteering, membership, and birthday parties, go to www.exploreitmarion.org. You can also email CindyLBinns@gmail.com or call (740) 206-9097.