Aurora’s SciTech Hands-on Museum is re-imagining a future without an actual museum.
The museum, which opened its doors in 1991, on Wednesday announced the closure of its location at 18 W. Benton St. Though the museum is closing, officials were quick to note the move did not spell an end to the organization’s dedication to bringing science, technology, engineering and math education to students.
“SciTech, as an organization, is committed to our mission and continuing to bring STEM education and experiences to people,” SciTech Executive Director Faith Slowinski said.
The museum closed to the public in March 2020 as the world was dealing with COVID-19. While it hosted pop-up events outdoors, the museum never reopened its building.
Additionally, the museum learned in December that the City of Aurora, which owns the building, would not be extending the museum’s lease. Slowinski said the city is considering options for the building and that there has been interest in redeveloping the space.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the board’s president said museum officials hoped the initial closure would be brief or that they could find another location, but ultimately they could not find a way to reopen that was financially viable.
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“We quite simply have run out of options for a viable museum location and the associated funding for such a move.” Nick Scanlan said.
The museum is looking for a smaller space for offices and to store some of the displays, but a location has not yet been identified, Slowinski said.
Though she said the closure was bittersweet, she was looking forward to a re-imagined SciTech. She noted the museum has a variety of resources, including a portable planetarium, which can be used for pop-up events or taken on the road to a school or other organization to provide hands-on learning for students.
She added the museum also is in conversations with other organizations about how the groups can work together to bolster STEM education in the Fox Valley area.
“We are very excited about the future of SciTech,” Slowinski said. “Change is difficult, but usually change brings about some wonderful innovation, and that’s what we’re hopeful for.”
SciTech will host a “First Share” of supplies for area schools and nonprofits from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 20, and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 21. Gently used STEM and school supplies will be available for a freewill donation. Guests must show a business card or an ID from their school or nonprofit to participate in the event.
The museum also will host a “Last Look” of the museum for the public from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 3, as part of the city of Aurora’s First Friday events. A “Last Chance” event giving the public a chance to purchase any remaining items at the museum will run daily from Monday, June 6, through Friday, June 10. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Hours on Wednesday, June 8, will be from 1 to 6 p.m.