McLean County Farm Bureau

Partners in Play: Celebrating 25 Years with the Children’s Discovery Museum


As the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal celebrates its 25th Anniversary, McLean County Farm Bureau is also celebrating 25 years of partnership and collaboration in the museum’s mission of learning through play.

“Agriculture has always been part of the Children’s Discovery Museum from the very beginning,” says Shelly Hanover, Director of Museum Experiences and Engagement. “McLean County Farm Bureau was one of the very first sponsors and partners.”

Making cornstarch plastic, 1994

When the museum first opened as a pilot project at College Hills Mall in 1994, a small agriculture exhibit included an erosion table and a station to make biodegradable plastic out of cornstarch.

One year later, when the museum moved and expanded into a bigger space, the agriculture exhibit grew as well.

“Farm Bureau provided $10,000 initially to establish the ag exhibit and $1,500 annually for 8 years to help cover operating and maintenance costs,” Swartz says.

Ag Exhibit, 1995

The second generation ag exhibit included a barn with a reading loft; a tractor kids could tinker with and take apart; and a farm to home display.

In the early 2000s, the Children’s Discovery Museum became part of the town of Normal and was integrated into the plans for the Uptown redevelopment.

“As the agriculture exhibit scaled up, so did our partnership,” Swartz says. “McLean County Farm Bureau contributed $100,000 towards the $1.5 million project.”

The current AgMazing exhibit, opened in November 2006, features farm equipment, crops, dairy cows and a map that shows where McLean County grain goes.

For more, check out the story in our Winter Local Link.