Excitement about the Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester is mounting as concepts for the future of the museum come to life.

The future iteration being designed for the museum will not only help to fill Rochester’s experience gap by providing an interactive space where families, caregivers, and community members can connect.

“We’ve known a children’s or science museum is one of the top five things our community is looking for,” says Heidi Mestad, the museum’s executive director. “We’ve reached the time where we need to determine exactly what that experience looks like.”

No matter what form it takes, the museum will be community-based. “Our goal isn’t just to create areas that primarily appeal to children and other areas that primarily appeal to adults,” explains Mestad. “Our goal is an intergenerational experience where children and adults play together.”

Museum exhibit and experience experts Jack Rouse Associates (JRA) have been redefining the very notion of a museum as they work to create the unique innovation experience center that Rochester families and visitors are seeking.

On September 25, JRA’s Creative Director Geoff Thatcher took a crowded room of community leaders, museum stakeholders, and members of the media on the journey future museum-goers might experience, beginning with a maze-like climbing structure that’s full of obstacles and challenges visitors must traverse together. With a mix of long-term and temporary exhibits, the museum’s “impact zone” will celebrate the Seven Powers of Play through three impact areas: health and well-being; innovation; and cultural exchange.

The impact zone is where place-based learning and interactive, hands-on experiences will lead museum visitors to walk away saying, “I didn’t know that!” From health and wellness-related responses, such as “I didn’t know a heartbeat could tell you so much,” to moments of self-discovery, such as “I didn’t know I could do that,” to moments that unite family, such as “I didn’t know Grandma was that creative,” visitors of all ages will leave with a sense of awe at what they’ve learned about themselves and the community around them.

Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester is passionately bringing families together at a time when days are over-committed and multiple stressors prevent families from finding space to connect, learn about each other, and create memories.

While a permanent site for the museum is still being determined, Thatcher emphasized that if the museum is to attract patients and visitors, the ideal location would be downtown. “The space needs to be conducive to creating a blended experience beyond the museum. Being positioned near other downtown events would increase attendance and better weave the museum into the fiber of the community.”

Mestad and other museum leaders agree and are developing a sustainable business plan that positions the museum to thrive, regardless of its location. Five sites – both in and outside of downtown – are currently being considered, along with market prices and potential key partnerships to help offset costs through collaboration.

“The experiences we offer today will continue to be part of the museum as we move forward, but we also want to maintain the momentum we’ve been making,” Mestad says.

We encourage you to reach out to your respective city council member or county board commissioner to thank them for their first-time investments into the museum and encourage their continued support going forward. Your voice can help make the innovation experience center a reality.

Heidi Mestad shares more about the future museum in the recent R-Town interview below.

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