The Children’s Hands-On Museum of Northwest Illinois is designed to be enjoyed by families with young children. Exhibits and educational content are planned to be appropriate for ages 2 – 12. The following rules and policies have been developed and are enforced to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all our guests.


  • All adults must be accompanied by children; all children must be accompanied by an adult. There must be one adult per 4 children. An adult is a person 18 years of age or older and has the responsibility of each child he/she brings.
  • Adults are expected to oversee each child they bring. They should be aware of which children need occasional supervision and those who need constant supervision. Distractions such as phones, long conversations with friends, etc. should be avoided. Adults should be interacting with the children.
  • Our facility is open to a wide variety and number of visitors. It is important that all visitors respect the exhibits, have creative fun but leave the exhibit as you they found it. Constant replacement of objects for each exhibit prevents us from moving forward in purchasing new exhibits and may be a danger to others.
  • No food or drink will be allowed in the exhibit areas (with the exception of the Party Room). You Visitors and volunteers may step out of the museum to the Mall area for refreshments.
  • Rules of behavior will be posted around the exhibits. Also when registering a short written reminder of rules will be given to the adult.
  • Volunteers will monitor behavior. If needed the visitor will be reminded of the rule and why we have the rule. Modeling of correct behavior can be done.

Photography by Museum Personnel

Still photographs or videos of attendees of the Museum may be used for promotional or educational purposes, including posting on the CHOM website, social media platforms, or published through the media. Visitors may inform the docent on duty if they wish photographs not be taken of any attendees in their family or group.

Photography by Visitors

CHOM permits still and video photography for personal/noncommercial use.

For the safety of our visitors and protection of exhibits, the use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks is prohibited at any time. Working members of the media who wish to use a tripod or monopod must obtain permission from the museum’s docent on duty.


Food and drinks damage exhibits and pose a safety hazard to other guests. Food and beverages are NOT allowed in CHOM galleries at any time. Bringing food and/or beverages into exhibit galleries may be grounds for immediate removal from the museum without refund.

Food may be brought in for special events such as birthday parties in conjunction with rental of the multi-purpose room. Food items may include birthday cake, non-alcoholic drinks, and warm food. However, no cooking or electrical food-warming devices, such as crock pots, are allowed. Food and drinks may be served to members of the private party only and must be consumed in the multi-purpose room.

For the safety of all museum guests, please refrain from bringing food items containing peanuts and other common food allergens.

Food served at events that are open to the public require a free, temporary food permit from the Stephenson County Health Department.

Tables are available in the mall corridor for consumption of food outside of the above guidelines.

Alcohol & Drugs

The Children’s Hands on Museum of NWIL is committed to provide a safe and healthy space for children and their families and our volunteers. Therefore the illegal use, possession, distribution or sale of alcohol or illegal or illicit drugs on the premises or during events of the Children’s Hands on Museum of NWIL is prohibited.

Anyone appearing to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be required to leave for the safety of our volunteers and our patrons.

The presence of alcohol and other drugs on the job and the influences of these substances on our volunteer and staff during working hours will result in appropriate disciplinary action and may result in termination.

Smoke-free Environment

The Children’s Hands on Museum of NWIL is a smoke free facility. Smoking is prohibited inside any area of the Museum.


  • Rough-housing with exhibits and/or other people is not permitted.
  • Disruptive, disrespectful and/or abusive behavior will result in your being asked to leave the museum immediately without refund. Future incidents may result in revoking of a membership.
  • Parents/caregivers are responsible for child supervision at all times inside the museum and on the museum grounds. All children must be accompanied by an adult parent/caregiver (age 18+) when visiting the museum.
  • Please limit your smartphone/tablet use while visiting the museum with your child.  When parents/caregivers are absorbed in their technology device instead of engaging with their child the result is not good.
  • Lack of adequate adult supervision of children is grounds for immediate removal from the museum without refund.
  • Child drop-offs are NOT permitted.  Guest services staff are here to assist you during your visit, but do not provide childcare services.
Confidentiality & Privacy Policy

Membership Registration

CHOM will not share information obtained through the registration process for annual membership with other entities. Information may include, but not be limited to, name, address, phone number, email address, or age of Museum members including adults and children. Photographs taken inside the Museum may be shared in accordance with the Photography section.

Board, Volunteers and Staff

CHOM board of directors, volunteers, and employees shall not engage in private discussion of or otherwise disclose to third parties information regarding CHOM matters (except when engaged in the conduct of the proper business of the Museum). All information that is not a matter of public record or not otherwise authorized by the appropriate authority (i.e., the board, a committee member, volunteers, and staff) to be disclosed as public shall be considered confidential.

The Museum shall not sell, exchange, share or otherwise release information about its donors unless disclosure is authorized by the donor or required by law. Members, donors and any other recipients of CHOM mail or email messages may opt out of any lists maintained by the Museum and used for such communication.

An individual with questions about what is or is not appropriate to discuss outside of the Museum or wishes to seek permission to make a public disclosure of information that is otherwise confidential should speak with the board president.

Penalties for violating these confidentiality policies can include termination of employees and removal of board members.