Quincy Children’s Museum – We envision joyful children, engaged families, and a connected community.

I got the chance to sit down with Amy Peters, Executive Director of the Quincy Children’s Museum, and discuss how her vision has come to life and what the future looks like for Quincy Children’s Museum (QCM).  

Q: Can you share a little of your background with us, Amy? Are you from the Quincy area? 

A: I am a proud Quincy native and have lived here my whole life. I graduated from Quincy High School in 2010, attended John Wood, and canceled my move to Colorado when I met and fell in love with my husband.  

Q: Can you tell us about your family and how parenting has shaped your vision for QCM? 

A: My husband and I knew we wanted a family right away. We have always loved kids and started our parenting journey by becoming foster parents. That experience opened my eyes to social work. It led me to obtain my bachelor’s degree in social work from Western Illinois University and my master’s in social work from Mizzou. I then went on to get my professional educator’s license so I could work in the school setting. This was a busy season for my husband as we were growing our family both naturally and through foster care. 

From the beginning of our parenting journey, we recognized the need for quality family activities, recreation, and educational opportunities without having to travel two hours out of town. I remember repeatedly saying to my husband, “Someone should really open a Children’s Museum in Quincy!” Little did I know then that I would take the initiative upon myself. 

Q: When did your vision for Quincy Children’s Museum really take off? 

A: In 2019, I was attempting to be a stay-at-home mom, and in less than a week, I developed a logo and an interest survey that over 600 people took in less than a week of me posting anonymously. With such great interest and support, I was quickly able to form a board, get incorporated, and register as a non-profit organization all by early 2020. We had a lot of big plans, but COVID-19 required us to pivot.  We used this time to work remotely with a team of 35 people to develop a strategic plan that identified our mission, value, and plans for the next three years. 

In 2021, we started partnering with community events and introduced a thousand children and their families to QCM in that first year. In 2022, we were able to attend 82 community events and I got to officially become the Executive Director of the Quincy Children’s Museum. In the summer of 2022, we hosted our first satellite exhibit at Quincy Public Library. It was called, “Into the Artic” and the community response was awesome and left them all wanting more! In fall 2022 we started providing local schools with our mobile exhibits for a week at a time to enjoy. The feedback has been amazing.

We went on to secure a 1-week contract with The Quincy Town Center to have an on-site location that quickly turned into a 13-week contract due to the high traffic and high demand. In February 2023 we were able to open Studio 101 in conjunction with Experience Quincy and this was available through September 2023. In August we opened our second satellite exhibit, this time partnering with Quincy Arts Center. This satellite exhibit was called “Curiosity Magnified” and was available for two months. In October we returned to the Quincy Town Center and will be there through the end of the 2023. Starting in January 2024 we will be located at 115 N. 4 th Street in Quincy. This space will include a loft for birthday parties, classes, and special events; an art room, our own parking lot, and a HUGE tiny town! Our goal is to remain in this space until we open the permanent site.

Q: Now that you’ve shared everything currently going on with QCM, can you tell us what the future looks like?

A:  Our permanent site will be located at 230 N. 3rd Street Quincy and has been under renovation for the past several months. We have raised 2.5 million of the necessary 12.5 million needed and our hope is to open in 2026, dependent on fundraising. However, QCM does not want to wait to start living our mission until our permanent site is completed. Our community and children need quality activities and educational opportunities now. We are busy spreading awareness and helping create core memories and we cannot do it without the community’s help. Up to this point, all programs offered have been completely free to utilize with donations welcomed. QCM introduced a membership program earlier this year, starting as low as $5/month to be eligible for special membership hours and programs. Effective 01/01/24 we will be implementing admission fees for visitors ranging from $2 to $5 per person and will require a minimum of $10/month to receive full family membership benefits. We will be offering a Museum’s for All Program, including 50% off admission and membership for qualifying families. These steps are critical to our growth as an organization as we work towards the completion of our capital campaign and the construction of our permanent site.

Q: Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

A: Yes! I am humbled and grateful Quincy Children’s Museum is becoming a reality and this would not be happening without the village around me. We have an incredible Board and amazing volunteers and committees. This whole project is about community and those that call the Quincy area home. This would not be possible without the community support we have and continue to receive every day. This also would not be possible without my amazing children and husband. My husband continually has a mile long to do list and my children are the official exhibit testers. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in making QCM a reality!

To stay up to date on all the exciting things happening at the Quincy Children’s Museum you can join their mailing list at https://form.jotform.com/212365261856155, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or visit their new website launching January 2nd.

To donate to this wonderful cause, you can mail a check to P.O. Box 5022 Quincy, IL 62306, give online at givebutter.com/qcm or venmo @quincychildrensmuseum

To make a reservation to play please visit givebutter.com/qcmreserve

To schedule a mobile exhibit, birthday party or for general information please email quincychildrensmuseum@gmail.com

Submitted by Allison Housewright