My family has been going to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota for nearly six years. We’ve watched it grow from a small exhibit in a mall storefront to traveling exhibits at events around town. When the museum opened it’s play lab, the children, and their friends loved playing on the TapeScape. When it was hosted at its temporary site we became members.
As the museum’s permanent building was being developed the kids would chatter amongst themselves when we would drive by. They couldn’t wait until it was open and looked forward to how much fun they were going to have when they played inside. When they were finally allowed inside, they were happy to find that all of them could play and have fun no matter their age. The Besty Tacey toddler porch would be a life-saver if I still had a toddler that wanted to explore. The Tree of Forts is a favorite for all, it has pushed the bravery of my youngest and it is a way for my oldest to hide when it’s time to leave.
We’ve been to a birthday party hosted at the museum and the use of the Rotary’s bright and sunny gathering room is nice, with kid-sized tables and plenty of chairs for adults along with a sink for clean-up of little hands. It’s perfect for a private area of cake and presents. Food for birthday parties is through the local Friesen’s Family Bakery & Bistro, home to the best gluten-free cookies I’ve ever had. Friesen’s also has a small bistro in the cafe area, offering muffins, cupcakes, cookies, lattes, soups, and sandwiches. I’m almost always talked into buying cupcakes for the kids.
With each visit to the museum, the children find something new to play with and learn. They make their own clay creations, run their own little food shop, with veggies from the garden area, and cook it up for anyone who is lucky to have a seat at the counter. They are looking forward to seeing the 3D printers in action and get more practice designing things to be printed. Right now their favorite building toy is magnetic tiles that can be used to build buildings. They can’t wait until the museum is able to purchase another set of big blue foam building blocks that they used to play with at the temporary site. Sadly the old set, and all of the other exhibits from the temporary site, was lost to flood damage to the museum’s storage facility. The only thing that survived was a handmade 3D quilt of a farm scene, which is now hanging by the Tree of Forts.
I look forward to all that the museum can bring to the community, every time we visit, we can see new ideas for its use are growing. Chatting with the staff and volunteers is a great way to get a peek at what upcoming ideas are being explored for the community. You can really tell that everyone who works there value the input they get from the community. As a parent, I find the museum a valuable asset for all families in our area and I hope to see it grow and sustained for the children that are coming into our growing city in the future.