CI Hero: Normal museum experience director honored as Illinois Museum Professional of the Year

CI Heroes

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — A McLean County woman continues to dedicate more than two decades of educational advancement through her time at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal.

Shelly Hanover is this week’s CI Hero.

Normal’s Children’s Discovery Museum’s Shelly Hanover was named the Illinois Museum Professional of the Year. Her career began in 1994.

“I just continue to grow with the museum and I have loved every minute of it,” said Shelly Hanover, Director of Museum Experiences and Engagement, Children’s Discovery Museum. “Seeing the museum just blossom from this tiny little idea into the wonderful resource that it is today.”

Hanover’s consistency grows as the museum develops and adapts. The museum’s executive director said her forward thinking and dependable inspiration is a driving force to its success.

“Shelly’s a great example of finding something you love and knowing that it might be work, but it doesn’t feel like work and it’s pretty inspiring to see that can happen,” said Beth Whisman, Executive Director, Children’s Discovery Museum. “The passion and spark doesn’t go away.”

Hanover received the distinction for her creation of the Midwest Museum Roundtable. The group connects industry participants to one another for support and ideas as the educational establishments continue facing pandemic complications. Museum staff said the group worked together to establish best practices and operating procedures to present to the Restore Illinois Committee. Member museums also hosted a virtual Noon Year’s Eve Dance Party Countdown serving more than 10,000 individuals across Illinois and Indiana.

“We have been trying to creatively problem-solve how do we get our families back in the museum, how do we continue to offer educational resources,” said Hanover. “Our team has really come together and even though it’s been a rough time, there have definitely been moments of celebration.”

Whisman said she served on the planning committee for the Association of Children’s Museums Annual National Conference. She also said Hanover is a champion for rural-urban collaborations.

Nominate someone from your community to be our next CI Hero.

Staff said the Children’s Discovery Museum is currently closed to general admission play under the Restore Illinois Phase 4 guidelines. The Museum is offering small group opportunities for playful learning including in-person classes and camps. Virtual activities are also still available. To learn more about current offerings, visit

About the Children’s Discovery Museum The mission of the Children’s Discovery Museum is to inspire the love of learning through the power of play. The Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation exists to support the mission and vision of the Museum through raising funds and awareness in the community. To learn more, visit, Like us on Facebook, follow @DiscoveryMuseum on Twitter, and follow @cdmnormal on Instagram. #CDMPowerofPlay

Latest Headlines

Stay Connected

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local News

More Local News