By Carissa Nelson
Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois is one of the area’s true gems.
There’s a large open lobby offering a few tables and chairs, free board games and there is free wifi throughout the building. The museum provides “bingo” sheets, which essentially represent a scavenger hunt for each exhibit, which allows children to “hunt” for various items on display and helps get (and keep) them engaged as they go along.
The ground level houses three cultural exhibits along with the Zahn Learning Center and Knight Auditorium, which offer additional programming throughout the year. A second level is accessible via stairs or elevator and houses an additional four cultural exhibits. Current exhibits include American Indian, South American Peoples, Ancient Mediterranean Cultures, Asian Cultures, European Cultures, African Cultures and Middle Eastern Cultures.
Overall, the museum is bright, clean, well-lit and really beautiful. Each exhibit is meticulously curated with bright and engaging signage, wall media and flip books. Every exhibit is well-displayed and really well done.
My recommendation: Spurlock would be great for a school field trip or even to help round out a school assignment on one of these cultures. Or possibly an enriching weekend day trip with older children.
The rules are clearly posted that there’s no food, drink, or touching (which makes total sense), but that can be hard to manage with younger children. My 16-month-old enjoyed every second of walking around and seeing all the bright colors and signs. There wasn’t anything at his level that he could have tried to touch, so he was able to roam freely and loved it. My 4-year-old, on the other hand, was just a little too young to appreciate everything and was desperate to touch something in every display. The scavenger hunt sheets are a great idea to keep the kids engaged, and since they were picture-based, he was able to have fun with those too, but I would still recommend it for an 8-and-up age group.
Where: 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana
Hours: Monday closed; Tuesday noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday noon-4 p.m.
Parking: A small dedicated lot of metered spots to the side of the building as well as metered street parking. The meters are free on the weekends, but meters are enforced Monday-Friday from 6 a.m-5 p.m..
Cost: Free, but a $3 donation is suggested.
Good for: Kids 8 and up
Carissa Nelson is a mom of two and blogger at Spoonful of Easy and Sales Director for Cardthartic greeting cards. She’s all about helping moms make their lives easier by sharing easy recipes, beauty and fashion that maximize the results but minimize the effort!