Make A Messterpiece – website
Location: The Glen Town Center, 2050 Tower Drive, Glenview
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Messy Package – $15. Includes Splat-tacular Tables, Bubbleology, and two activities
- Messiest Package – $22. Include Splat-tacular Tables, Bubbleology, and four activities
- Admission – Free for children under 1, $5 for children under 3, $10 for children 3 and up. Includes Splat-tacular Tables and play areas.
- Each activity – $5.
- Memberships are available for families; annual memberships are $160 and summer memberships are $125. See the Membership page online for details about membership benefits.
Parking: Street parking is available and there is a covered parking garage with free parking located behind the building.
Bathrooms: There are public bathrooms for men and woman as well as a family bathroom. There are changing tables and the family bathroom has a small toilet for children. It was too small for Cooper to use; he’s only 4 years old but I made him use the adult toilet because he was trying to squat down to use the kids one.
Nursing: There is a nursing area available.
Handicapped/stroller accessibility: There is a fairly open floor plan so it is handicapped and stroller accessible, but may be difficult to maneuver during crowded times.
Other amenities: Make A Messterpiece offers classes, birthday parties, and field trips. The M Club is available for parents with couches and tables and free wifi for parents (please note that it is not as pictured on the website; that area is not the Spat-tacular Tables and the seating area is now located in the lobby near the entrance). There is a gift shop at the entrance with lots of art supplies and toys. There is also an area where kids can paint and embellish wooden items (birdhouses, boxes, etc) for an additional cost.
Food: There is no food available, but there are snacks and beverages available for purchase near the front desk. There are several restaurants within walking distance.
Special events: There is a calendar available online, but no events are scheduled for July.
- Bubbleology – create a piece of artwork with colored bubbles
- Creative Kitchen – little chefs can create a treat with the help of a staff member
- Drum Roll – enter the sound studio and bang on drums of all kinds, some with paint in them
- Experimentation Station – observe and participate in an experiment
- Lil Spouts – make crafts by reusing items or using recycled items
- Splat-tacular Tables – an art area where kids can paint, color with markers, or use glue to make art projects
- Play areas – Two play areas, one for babies and toddlers the other for older children
We paid: $22. The current price for the messiest package is $22 a child, but I was able to buy two half price vouchers on Groupon.
We visited Make A Messterpiece on a weekday morning with some friends of ours. I’ve been wanting to take the boys to Make A Messterpiece for quite a while, but since it is pretty costly we put it off until I was able to get a great deal for it on Groupon.
When we arrived the place was pretty crowded. There were only two families in front of us at the desk, but it took about 15 minutes to get in. We were assigned times for the Creative Kitchen and Experimentation Station, given cardboard squares for Bubbleology, and guided toward the smocks and into the activity area. I overheard the employees saying just as we got in that they were now filled to capacity and anyone else would have to wait because all the smocks were either in use or being dried.
The kids headed for Bubbleology first. We received a cardboard square for each child and they were able to put it into the bubbleology machine, press the button, and colored bubbles would blow out of the machine and onto the paper. There were several different stations with different colors for the kids to choose from. It was a little difficult for the littlest kids because they had to press the button for several seconds before anything came out, but Dexter was able to do it with some help and encouragement. It was fun, but several of the stations were low on bubbles or out completely. The kids did make some nice art that I plan to frame for their playroom.
Next we headed to Drum Roll. Dexter and Cooper were attracted to it because there were boots outside the Drum Roll room. The kids got dressed for the room – boots, raincoats with hoods, and goggles – grabbed some drumsticks, and headed inside one of the two drum rooms. The drum rooms each had glass walls and several different things for the kids to bang on – drums, metal pipes, and large drums with water and paint on top. I was a little surprised that the kids seemed really timid about getting messy. I encouraged them to bang on the large drum, but they really only tapped it a bit. After about five minutes they were done and ready to come out, which worked out well because there were other kids waiting to get in.
After Drum Roll, the kids spotted the play area and made a beeline for it. They played for 15 or 20 minutes before our scheduled time for Experimentation Station. The kids each had a tray with two cups filled with red water. The staff member doing the demonstration was very matter-of-fact and didn’t seem very interested in entertaining the kids. She had them add dish soap to one cup and baking soda to both of them and stir it in. They chose one of the cups to add vinegar to and then watched the result. Then the staff member pulled out a volcano and did the same experiment in the volcano for the kids to watch.
After another visit to the play area it was time for Creative Kitchen. My kids, my friend’s kids, and all of the other kids assigned to that time gathered at the kitchen and waited, but no one came to lead the activity. After about 10 minutes another parent went to the front desk to ask and it was about another 5 minutes before someone came over the the kitchen. The staff member that did finally come over (I believe her name was Melanie) seemed to be rushing over from whatever else she had been doing. When she arrived she was friendly and engaging with the kids. The kids got to combine ingredients to make coconut macaroons and then drop the mixture onto parchment paper to go into the oven. The cookies were baked, cooled, and put into individual bags for the children to pick up before they left. (Unfortunately, the parchment paper stuck to the cookies so the kids had to eat them with a little parchment paper on the bottom.)
More play area, then we dragged the kids over to the Splat-tacular Tables. There were easels for painting, a sensory table for the kids to play in, and tables with paints, markers, and glue and small things to glue onto paper. The kids did some painting, gluing, and playing in the sensory table. I wish we had visited the Splat-tacular Tables earlier, maybe even first, because I put the kids’ creations in the drying racks, but they were still very wet by the time we left. Leave lots of time for globs of paint to dry!
We got Lil Sprouts craft kits from the front desk (they weren’t ready when we arrived so we were told to pick them up later) and went to the Lil Sprouts area to make a flowered bracelet. The kids enjoyed stringing the pasta, but needed some help getting the flowers onto the yarn.
Of course, it was back to the play area again until it was time for us to leave. Our entire visit lasted about two hours and with the exception of the play area, I don’t think the kids spend any more that fifteen or twenty minutes on any of the activities. There is really limited time you can spend in most of the areas; the scheduled activities (Experimentation Station and Creative Kitchen) are only about 15 minute sessions that you can do one time, Bubbleology and Lil Sprouts require supplies you get from the front desk and you only receive enough for one project for each child, and Drum Roll has very limited space so you can spend longer there but other children will likely be waiting to use the room. The only activities that can really be done for an unlimited time are Splat-tacular Tables and the play areas.
Overall, I was not incredibly impressed. The staff didn’t seem to be keeping up with refilling supplies and most of them weren’t very friendly (with the exception of Melanie, who was friendly, engaged the children, and seemed to be the only staff member that was busy while the rest seemed to be mostly standing around). The activities were okay, but I was really expecting messier stuff. I was a little underwhelmed by the activities and felt like they really weren’t messier than I would do with the kids at home or at a children’s museum. The kids spent the most time in the play area and we had to drag them away from it to do some of the art activities, which really surprised me. Cooper loves anything art related so I was hoping Make A Messterpiece would be perfect for him, but it wound up being pretty much the same kind of art projects he does in his preschool class so they didn’t really hold his attention for very long. Make A Messterpiece is only a couple blocks away from the Kohl Children’s Museum and I would have preferred to go there (and I think the kids would have enjoyed it even more). Even with the discounted Groupon price I felt like we could have done more for our money elsewhere. The kids had fun and I’m sure they’d be happy to return, but I don’t think we’ll be back again unless the prices drop significantly or they improve some of the activities.
Have you visited Make A Messterpiece? What do you think? Would you go back again?