Iowa Children's Museum opens new exhibit to honor Andrea Farrington

New habitat for Peter, the museum's turtle, will memorialize shooting victim

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CORALVILLE — Andrea Farrington was a light that shined wherever she went, her family said. Now a light will continue to shine with help of the newest exhibit at the Iowa Children’s Museum in her honor.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, the public will be able to see new turtle and fish tanks in the museum’s main lobby inside the Coral Ridge Mall to memorialize the 20-year-old who worked there for about six months until she was murdered by a mall security guard.

Cheryl Farrington, Andrea’s mom, said she was overwhelmed but grateful for this honor for her daughter.

“We’re very proud of what she has accomplished in the short amount of time she was there,” Cheryl Farrington said. “It just shows the impact she had.”

Although the idea was first formed last year, work began on the project in June. It features two large tanks: one for fish and the other for the museum’s pet water turtle named Peter, which museum Executive Director Deb Dunkhase said was special to Farrington.

The exhibit, which was assembled Thursday night, will include a plaque with Andrea Farrington’s name and with a saying from Greek philosopher Plato, “Life must be lived as play.”

On June 12, 2015, Farrington was shot and killed while working inside the Coral Ridge Mall by security guard Alexander M. Kozak, 23, of North Liberty.

Designs for the habitat were unveiled in June, exactly one year after her death, and a week after Kozak was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole.

“As tragic as what happened was, we wanted to remember her for the life that she brought to the museum,” Dunkhase said.

Dunkhase said Andrea Farrington had been advocating for a bigger space for the turtle, which has been the museum’s pet since 1997.

“I don’t know why she liked that turtle so much, but she did,” Cheryl Farrington said. “So many Snapchats and selfies with it.”

The habitat — about 24 feet across with both tanks — will give Peter “more space to play” and children more room to see, Dunkhase said.

Dunkhase said a private ceremony will be held in Andrea Farrington’s memory Saturday morning that will include Andrea’s extended family and museum employees.

“In her short years on this Earth, her arms were outreached to lots and lots of people,” Cheryl Farrington said.

The exhibit cost about $5,000 and was paid for out of the museum’s operating budget, Dunkhase said. The museum will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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