A Peoria Park District Facility

Who We Are


For more than ten years, Junior League of Peoria volunteers spent countless hours researching the feasibility of a children’s museum for Central Illinois and have taken great care at every step to work with experts to make their dreams of a world-class children’s museum for Peoria a reality.

The Junior League officially joined forces with the Peoria Zoological Society and the Peoria Park District to launch the Power of Play campaign in 2012, which focused on the revitalization of the campus at Glen Oak Park.

The PlayHouse opened to the public in June 2015. Together, the PlayHouse, the Peoria Zoo, and Luthy Botanical Garden offer a daylong destination for families and school groups.


The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum provides children with the tools and inspiration they need to be explorers and creators of the world. We do this in part through understanding, supporting, and promoting play in the fullest sense of the word, one that includes imagination and creativity.

Along with our mission, we have four core values:

  • We believe that, with support, a child can be anything they want to be. The PlayHouse provides children with the opportunity and inspiration to imagine, practice, and become. A PlayHouse visit sparks experiences and ideas that keep kids playing, exploring, and creating. Who knows where a PlayHouse experience might lead?
  • We believe we are more effective when we collaborate with others. Collaboration with individuals and organizations throughout and beyond Peoria allows us to effectively support families and achieve shared goals.
  • We believe the PlayHouse is for all children and families. We are committed to equity – the fair treatment of all people and ensuring everyone has access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive. We embrace people of all abilities, ages, cultures, genders, national origins, races, religions, sexual orientations, and any socio-economic status.
  • We believe the PlayHouse is a safe space for the exchange of ideas. We believe in science and the positive affirmation of all people and their identities. Listening to and understanding each other’s ideas and beliefs enriches and strengthens individuals and our community.


Our Philosophy

The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum sparks curiosity and creativity in all children. As a unique resource for the greater Peoria area, we foster next-generation problem solvers who will fundamentally change our community and our world.

During PlayHouse visits children can engage in making, through which they cultivate their creativity. Learning to think critically and creatively to solve open-ended problems is essential to success, and will allow today’s children to shape tomorrow’s world.

At the PlayHouse, children discover that they can make anything and solve any problem once they put their minds to it.

PlayHouse Maker Programs are:

  • Open-ended and process-based. We do not tell children what to make; figuring out what to make is part of the learning process. We are teaching children to identify problems as well as solve them.
  • Tool-based. We teach children how to use tools safely, and how to select the best tool for the job. This helps children learn that there is a wide range of tools available, and how to use tools to their full advantage.
  • Rooted in Exploration. Making is a way to identify and address changes children want to see in a designed world. This type of making prepares children to become transformers in their community as adults.


When we talk about diversity at the PlayHouse, we are talking about diversity of all kinds -- race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more. The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum values:

  • Internal diversity: internal characteristics that a person is born into or identifies with; this includes race, ethnicity, age, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, and mental ability.
  • External diversity: characteristics that are related to a person but aren’t characteristics that a person was born with; this includes personal interests, education, appearance, citizenship, religious belief, location, class/socioeconomic status, and life experiences.
  • Worldview Diversity: factors that define how a person conceptualizes the world around them; this includes political beliefs, moral compass, and outlook on life.

The PlayHouse values the diversity described above because we believe that what makes us unique as individuals should be celebrated and embraced. The PlayHouse values the sharing of experiences and diverse perspectives because it provides opportunities for personal growth, fosters empathy, and promotes the public good. The PlayHouse is a place where children and adults can come to experience the richness of diversity through play and creativity.


Check Out Our Impact

2018 Impact Report

Advisory Board

Alissa Williams, Chair

Ashley Miller, Vice Chair

Brooklyn Birchenall

Laura Gleissner

Emily Howe Pieper

Scott Loftus

Michael Murphy

Corinne Olson

Valerie San Juan

Jay Scholl

Greg Tomlins

Amanda Walner-Cutright