Lake Superior Shipwreck Comes to Life in New Exhibit at Minnesota Children’s Museum

Shipwreck Adventures, a new permanent exhibit, offers an immersive “underwater” experience

SAINT PAUL, MINN. – April 4, 2022 – Scuba diving at Minnesota Children’s Museum? Absolutely!

Minnesota Children’s Museum is excited to announce the opening of its new permanent exhibit, Shipwreck Adventures. The exhibit, which takes up a large portion of the museum’s first floor, is the first new permanent gallery to open since the museum completed a major renovation and expansion in 2017.

Shipwreck Adventures is an immersive “underwater” adventure filled with action-packed challenges and imaginative spaces. Visitors don scuba gear to dive deep into the waters of Lake Superior, maneuvering their way through a sunken pilot house and ship hull, which are based on a real-life sunken ship. Visitors practice diver hand signals, build agility in the laser maze, work together to move equipment to and from the dive site and explore the whimsical and oversized natural landscape of Lake Superior’s North Shore.

While exploring the exhibit, children stretch their imaginations and cultivate their creative thinking skills by inventing and acting out their own stories. They also practice collaborating as part of a dive team, hone their language skills by learning and using unfamiliar words and challenge large and small motor skills.

Exhibit highlights include:

  • A 20-foot-long decaying ship hull packed with interactive surprises
  • A 10-foot-tall pilot house with a working steering wheel
  • Dive site with conveyors and ramps that encourage visitors to work together to move equipment on and off the ship
  • Diver training area with pretend scuba gear and laser maze
  • Green screen experience to bring the underwater narrative to life with action play and video
  • Shoreline canopy of oversized plants inspired by the unique flora found along the northern shores of Lake Superior
  • Towering 12-foot cliffs and large coves filled with animals that call the North Shore home

“We’ve heard from visitors that they love immersive play experiences. They want to walk into something and be surrounded by a new, imaginative world. So that’s exactly what we’ve created,” said Senior Exhibit Developer Mary Weiland, who acted as the project lead for Shipwreck Adventures. “The exhibit is filled with opportunities for adventure play and pretend play, while still being steeped in real Minnesota places and history.”

Weiland used her background in Minnesota history to bring a realistic touch to the exhibit. The sunken ship at the center of the exhibit is based on the J.S. Seaverns, a ship that sunk in Lake Superior in 1884. Weiland worked closely with Ken Merryman, a founder of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society and one of the divers that discovered the J.S. Seaverns shipwreck in 2016, to provide guidance on the ship’s design.

Weiland also researched the unique flora and fauna of Lake Superior’s North Shore, incorporating whimsical interpretations that can be found throughout the exhibit. She and other team members met with the Grand Portage Tribal Council, whose members generously shared their deep knowledge about the biology and microhabitats of the area, which informed decisions about which plants and animals to highlight in the exhibit.

“For many months, our staff has been working hard to create this new exhibit from the ground up – pouring over every detail, finding fun ways to surprise and engage visitors, and bringing this new underwater world to life. I couldn’t be more excited that we are finally able to share this amazing new experience with visitors,” said Dianne Krizan, president of Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Shipwreck Adventures is one of 10 permanent exhibits at Minnesota Children’s Museum. Museum admission is $14.95 per person for ages 1 to 101. Museum members get in free. Tickets are available at For more information about the making of Shipwreck Adventures, visit

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