Ready, Aim, Fun! Minnesota Children’s Museum Reaches Expansion Milestone with Launch of Forces at Play Exhibit

by | Aug 19, 2016 | Press Release |

Opening Soon: First New Permanent Exhibit of $30M Expansion and Renovation

Mind-blowing fun bursts into Minnesota Children’s Museum with the launch of Forces at Play in the 3M Gallery, the first of 10 new permanent exhibits to open during the museum’s  expansion and renovation project in downtown St. Paul.

The vibrant new exhibit, which opens soon, features activities that tap into the awe and wonder of air and water.  Children and adults will stretch their ingenuity devising ball launchers with tubes, hoses and valves. They’ll set off air-powered chain reactions and get busy with water sprayers and bubble engines in the wackiest car wash ever.

Visitors won’t find many directions in Forces at Play – and that’s on purpose. Instead, they’ll set their own challenges, pick their own targets and engineer their own fun.

The activities in Forces at Play will not only be a blast, they’ll also cultivate a variety of important skills, including critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and more. The experiences reflect the museum’s focus on sparking children’s learning through play.

The exhibit encourages visitors to think through problems, test out ideas and come up with solutions – all while exploring concepts in science, technology and engineering.

“There’s a lot of power in putting children – and adults – in charge of their own learning,” said Nichole Polifka, the museum’s director of learning and impact. “In the new Forces at Play exhibit, we want to see everyone set up challenges for themselves, explore freely, ask questions and joyfully take it all in.”

The museum, which opened the downtown St. Paul location in 1995 and now attracts more than 460,000 visitors per year, broke ground in December 2015 on the $30 million expansion and renovation.

New attractions will include a four-story climbing structure called The Scramble, maker spaces, a larger gallery for toddlers, two outdoor experiences and more. The museum also is adding visitor amenities such a café with coffee bar, an additional entrance on the skyway level, more bathrooms and another elevator.

“We’re creating a bigger and bolder children’s museum,” said Dianne Krizan, president of Minnesota Children’s Museum. “Our new museum will allow even more families to experience the powerful playful learning that happens here every day.”

The museum remains open through November. Plans call for the St. Paul location to close from early December through March 2017. The newly expanded and renovated museum is scheduled to re-open in April 2017.

With the opening of Forces at Play, visitors will see that the museum is moving the fun to the front of the building. The gallery is on the first floor, with large windows along West Seventh Street. Prior to the renovation, the museum’s administrative offices occupied the space.

Major support for Forces at Play comes from 3M, which contributed $1 million to the museum’s Room to Play capital campaign.

“3M is committed to helping grow the next generation of innovators,” said Michael Stroik, 3Mgives Senior Manager. “We’re proud to partner with Minnesota Children’s Museum to ensure that all kids have access to fun and engaging STEM activities.”

“The new Forces at Play exhibit gives kids a chance to develop the skills they’ll need to break new ground in the future,” said Robert Befidi, Jr., who leads global strategy and business development for the 3M Health Care Business Group and serves on the Minnesota Children’s Museum Board of Directors.

The State of Minnesota approved $14 million in funding for the expansion project and the City of St. Paul is contributing $1 million. Other supporters include a variety of corporations, foundations and individuals.

Admission to Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul is $9.95 for children and adults ages 10 to 101. Members get in free. Visit for details on hours, parking and attractions.


Minnesota Children’s Museum is dedicated to sparking children’s learning through play. Our vision: “Kids play more. Adults do, too.  We thrive as a happier, healthier and more innovative community through the radiant power of play.” The Museum, which first opened in 1981 and moved to downtown St. Paul in 1995, serves more than 460,000 visitors each year at its locations in St. Paul and Rochester, and reaches thousands more across the state through Smart Play Spots, Storyland exhibits and other programs. As the nation’s leading developer of traveling children’s museum exhibits, the Museum is a trailblazer in creating immersive learning environments, reaching more than 10 million children and adults in the United States, Canada and Mexico through the nation’s largest collection of children’s traveling exhibits. The Museum is consistently rated as one of the top children’s museums in the country by national media outlets such as Forbes and Parents and was named as a finalist for an Institute of Museum and Library Services Medal of Service, the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries. Follow Minnesota Children’s Museum on InstagramFacebookTwitter and YouTube and visit our Power of Play blog.


At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. With $30 billion in sales, our 90,000 employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to the world’s problems at or on Twitter @3M or @3MNewsroom.

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