In 1982, Dr. Ernest Malamud took a sabbatical from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to work on a San Francisco project at the Exploratorium. He returned inspired to bring a similar place to the Midwest.
“Despite the remarkable progress in the past decades in understanding our Universe, we particle physicists have failed to communicate the wonder, excitement, and beauty of these discoveries to the general public…informal science education and especially science and technology centers can play an important role in efforts to raise public awareness…of basic research.”
“Too many adults are afraid of science because they have had little connection with it. An exploratorium gives [people] a chance to work with science and participate in projects so they won’t fear it later.”
His dream for the future was drafted in a Project Newsletter in 1987. Dr. Malamud reached out to colleagues and assembled an international panel to establish a science center that would be accessible to the entire population.
Experts from France, England, and Russia joined with governmental scientists and local businesses in the Illinois Research and Development Corridor to form an advisory committee. On September 12, 1988 SCITECH was officially recognized as a business in DuPage County.
The public was introduced to SciTech exhibits at the Krasa Center at Benedictine College. Prototype exhibits demonstrated fiber optics, super conductors, and quark machines. “We would have show-and-tell meetings in my living room and try to break each other’s exhibits,” Malamud said.
The collection of exhibits was given a temporary home in 1989. Developers Fred Barofsky and Tom McWilliams donated 7,000 square feet in the Iroquios Center in Naperville for one year. The housewarming invitation was titled “The Dream Becoming Reality,” but Malamud had bigger aspirations. SciTech needed to double its space in order to expand into a true “museum” and charge admission.