Ravinia, Kohl Museum duet for children’s exhibit
10/9/12 6 year old Karina Gerstung of Arlington Heights and 4 year old Maya Mehra of Chicago compose some music at the unveiling of the Ravinia sponsored interactive music exhibit at the Kohl Children's Museum on Tuesday morning. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 8:56AM
GLENVIEW — Ravinia Festival of Highland Park, one of the Chicago area’s most popular music venues, and Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago, in Glenview, are making educational music together.
They are partnering to present a hands-on “Music Makers” exhibit as one of 17 permanent vignettes, all aligned with Illinois’s learning standards, for children from birth to eight at the Museum.
The Ravinia-sponsored exhibit was designed to help children discover how sound is created in a variety of ways, recognize different types of sounds and the physical forces behind them and manipulate melody, tempo and rhythm.
“Our organizations share the same philosophy. That is, from early on, children should be exposed to things that enrich their lives and that music should be one of those things,” said Robert Krebs, chairman of the Ravina board. “So the idea is to get them to understand how to make music. They see ‘Ravinia’ here (above the exhibit) and it plants the seed. Eventually, we will get them and their families on the lawn at Ravinia hearing beautiful music that will enrich and hopefully change their lives.”
President and CEO of the Kohl Children’s Museum Sheridan Turner said music is incredibly important for children’s development because it builds skills in language, math and listening.
Plans for the exhibit have been in the works for seven or eight years, said Welz Kauffman, Ravinia’s president and CEO.
“Sheridan Turner and I were talking about a variety of things when I suggested this might be a good collaboration, and she said she was thinking the same thing,” Kauffman said. “ ... It’s such a good fit.”
Located at the corner of Green Bay and Lake Cook roads, Ravinia attracts more than 600,000 guests each summer for more than 120 events, including classical music presentations, the annual summer residency of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, rock, chamber music, dance and kids programming, Kauffman said.
The museum, which already draws 300,000 people annually, recently was named one of the country’s Ten Best Children’s Museums by Parents magazine. The Museum was ranked sixth out of more than 300 children’s museums nationwide and was the only Chicago area museum recognized, Kauffman added.
Several children actively engaged with the exhibit on Tuesday were definitely pleased with it.
“I like this a lot,” said Karina Gerstung, 6, of Arlington Heights, dashing from one place to another. “I can make music wherever I want.”
Tamara Danielle Francellno, 5, of Des Plaines, danced to the sounds being made at the exhibit by other children.
And Maya Mehra, 4, of Chicago, couldn’t wait to get to the drums.
“I love all of it!” she said, hitting several percussion instruments.
The exhibit features:
• Making melodies using bolts and wrenches
• Using soft-===culpture pegs to make a music box
• Moving musical notes on a staff to create a melody
• Feeling and seeing vibrations on string and percussion instruments
• Layering melody, harmony and rhythm to create a symphony
• Beating drums and other percussion instruments in the Jam Room
• And dancing to music while watching the movements make patterns on a colorful video screen.
Introducing music to children at an early age hopefully will give them a life long love of music, Turner said.
“The collaboration of two iconic institutions is a testament to our dedication of enriching children’s lives through the learning and the arts,” said Kohl Children’s Museum Chairman Donna Sims Wilson. “This exhibit offers young visitors the opportunity to develop their sense of adventure and discovery through music.”
Ravinia Festival and Kohl Children’s Museum also partner in the umbrella organization Do North along with Writers’ Theatre and Chicago Botanic Garden, with the goal of transforming the northern suburbs into a cultural destination.