A Timeline of Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester


  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester announces plans to close in February and re-open in summer 2020 at Apache Mall with a new name: Spark. With the move, Spark becomes an independent organization, separate from Minnesota Children’s Museum.


  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester begins exploring the possibility of moving to the historic “castle” armory building in downtown Rochester.
  • A survey of members and other visitors finds that 88% feel the current location is too small.


  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester grows to serve about 30,000 visitors per year and maintains a membership base of about 700 families
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester establishes partnerships with local community organizations such as WIC, Head Start and School Readiness to better serve Rochester families.
  • The Museum launches a Play for All program, distributing more than 400 free memberships each year to families in need.


  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester leases 5,000 square feet of space at the River Center Plaza in Rochester and announces the hire of the Museum’s first director, Dawn Devine.
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester opens to the public on April 5, 2012.


  • Minnesota Children’s Museum receives an appropriation from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Legacy Amendment to fund two years of start-up and operating costs for the Rochester Museum.
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum officially acquires the Children’s Museum of Rochester. As part of the acquisition, CMR dissolved as a non profit and the CMR Board serves as an Advisory Board to MCM.


  • Children’s Museum of Rochester begins discussions with Minnesota Children’s Museum to open a satellite location in Rochester.
  • The new original mobile exhibit, Ready, Set, GO! Racetrack, created by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce LGR class of 2010 premiers at Family Night at Rochesterfest.


  • The CMR’s first official fundraising event, on March 22 at BB’s Pizzaria, attracts hundreds of supporters and confirms the community’s enthusiasm for the project.
  • The CMR unveils a traveling exhibit, an interactive playhouse for kids, dubbed “CMR Under Construction” at the Aldrich Memorial Nursery School Carnival on May 1. The CMR sets up the playhouse around town at community events throughout the summer.
  • The CMR participates in the first-ever ArtiGras held in August and showcases the “Under Construction” playhouse.
  • The CMR hosts the first major fundraiser at the History Center “Movies on the Barn” with the “Incredible Family Fun Night”. This event raises more than $4,000.


  • In April, the Augsburg College MBA program completes a comprehensive study testing support for a Children’s Museum in Rochester. The study reveals overwhelming support for a museum, and projects that the museum will draw more than 40,000 visitors annually from a 50-mile radius around Rochester.
  • Based on the positive results of the CMR fundraising feasibility study by The Steir Group, the CMR Board of Directors votes to proceed with a capital campaign.


  • The Children’s Museum of Rochester (CMR) officially forms as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization with the purpose of researching and planning for the creation of a children’s museum that benefits children, parents, employers and the community.
  • CMR’s Board of Directors expands to include a diverse list of community leaders, employers and parents with backgrounds in education, business, finance, technology, law, communication and marketing. Its volunteer database grows to more than 50 families.


  • A group of Rochester parents, interested in providing fun, educational opportunities for local families, meet to discuss the need for a children’s museum in Rochester.

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