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Child's Play

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It's hard to know how nonstop punishment will affect a new product. Even, apparently, when the product is made for that kind of abuse. A recent visit to Navy Pier's $14.5 million Chicago Children's Museum found the equipment suffering plenty though the museum's only been open for two weeks.

But not to worry. Scads of advertising for the Chicago Tribune, Eli's Cheesecake, Amoco, the Chicago Transit Authority, and the U.S. Post Office suggest there will be corporate dollars to fix the handiwork of museum patrons and help establish consumer loyalty among tod-dlers at the same time. And steps are being taken to improve matters: one of the artist-made benches, a musical creation called "The Wild Ones," sported a new sign reading "This bench is designed for sitting on. Please do not stand or jump on it." Our favorite working exhibit? It was a toss-up between the $1 diaper-to-go in the women's bathroom and the antiprejudice "Face to Face," where visitors write down a name they've been called and put it through a paper shredder.

The Casualties So Far:

"Water Ways" a major attraction: closed for maintenance

The three-story "Climbing Schooner": closed for maintenance

Composting worm farm: missing

A computer in the Inventing Lab: missing

"Music Challenge" sound lab: closed, covered with yellow "caution" tape

Art-bench project video: not working

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tony Griff.

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