Minnesota Children’s Museum Breaks Ground on Expansion and Renovation as Governor Dayton Declares “Minnesota’s Day of Play”

by | Oct 5, 2015 | Press Release


 Museum Remains Open while Reinventing Galleries and Adding Visitor Amenities

 St. Paul, Minn. (Oct. 5, 2015) – Minnesota Children’s Museum breaks ground Oct. 7 on a major expansion and renovation project in downtown St. Paul – while launching the #PlayMoreMN movement to promote the vital importance of play in children’s learning.

The Museum will remain open during most of the expansion work. In the coming months, visitors can explore many of their favorite galleries, roam new traveling exhibit s, and take part in a variety of special attractions and programs.

A “Ground Shaking” celebration at 10 a.m. Wednesday will mark the official start of the expansion and renovation project. Governor Mark Dayton will join Museum staff, board members, donors, community leaders and Museum visitors to herald the important milestone. The festivities will include children helping Governor Dayton symbolically building the new Museum with large blocks, a ball drop and a DJ-led dance party.

The Museum is re-imagining all of its galleries, creating more exhibit space and adding a variety of visitor amenities. The new Museum will feature a multi-story climbing structure, an expanded gallery for toddlers, a larger water-and-air play space, and several other new experiences. The Museum also is adding a café with coffee bar, more bathrooms, an additional elevator and an entrance on the skyway level.

“Together with our generous donors and supporters, we are making a major investment in the power of play,” said Dianne Krizan, President of Minnesota Children’s Museum. “Our new Museum will provide more room to play and allow even more families to experience the amazing playful learning that happens here every day.”

Governor Dayton declared Oct. 7 to be “Minnesota’s Day of Play” to celebrate the Museum’s expansion and kick off the #PlayMoreMN movement. The Governor and the Museum urge Minnesotans to make time for fun on Oct. 7 and share playful photos or videos on social media via the hash tag #PlayMoreMN.

“I was honored to serve in the group that founded Minnesota Children’s Museum. I am delighted to join the museum today, as it launches its exciting new chapter,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “Minnesota Children’s Museum understands the great benefits to kids of early, hands-on learning experiences, and to families of sharing quality time together. This expansion will enable the Museum to help children and parents learn together for many years to come.”

“The expansion of Minnesota Children’s Museum means this great institution will be an even greater resource for Minnesota children and their families,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Archie and I loved to bring our sons to the Children’s Museum when they were little. This expansion creates the opportunity for more Minnesota children to play, explore, learn, and expand their understanding of their world.”

The Museum’s re-imagined exhibits will focus on experiences that help children develop the essential skills they need to succeed. The updated exhibits will not only be fun, they also will cultivate skills such as critical thinking, communication, coordination and creative thinking.

Coinciding with the start of the expansion and renovation project is the launch of the #PlayMoreMN movement, which champions the value of play in making our communities happier, healthier and more innovative. The effort will include community outreach, social media activation, grassroots events and spontaneous bouts of play throughout the expansion period.

“Play is a big deal – and it has a permanent place in all of our lives,” said Nichole Polifka, Director of Learning and Impact at Minnesota Children’s Museum. “Play is more than ‘just fun.’ Play is a necessary part of success in the 21st century.”

The expansion and renovation project is projected to cost $30 million. The Museum has raised $28.5 million and is continuing to raise funds to realize its vision for the project. The State of Minnesota approved $14 million in bond funding and the City of St. Paul is contributing $1 million. Other supporters include 3M, Best Buy, Target and a variety of corporations, foundations and individuals.

Minnesota Children’s Museum, which first opened in Minneapolis in 1981, moved to downtown St. Paul in 1995. Since then, the Museum’s attendance has grown more than 50 percent to about 450,000 visitors per year.

“We’ve had a great 20 years in our space in downtown St. Paul,” Krizan said. “But’s it time to grow and make the experience for our visitors even better.”

The Museum will complete the expansion and renovation project in phases between October and early 2017. During the first phase, which lasts until spring 2016, several existing galleries will remain open. The Museum also will provide special programs and experiences, plus two traveling exhibits (The Amazing Castle from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016 and Very Eric Carle from Feb. 6 through May 15, 2016).

During the second phase, lasting until fall 2016, visitors can explore one of the new permanent galleries (Forces at Play) and experience three special traveling exhibits. The Museum is scheduled to close from fall 2016 until the new Museum opens in early 2017.

The expansion and renovation project will add 35% more visitor space. The Museum is expanding from six to eight permanent galleries. The new galleries and exhibits include:

  • The Scramble – A multi-story climber featuring slides, ladders and catwalks. Occupying a highly visible addition with a glass façade along West Seventh Street, The Scramble will delight and challenge children and adults alike.
  • Forces at Play – Features air hoses, water sprayers and other machines to engage children and adults in playful explorations that use their senses and invite new thinking.
  • Sprouts – A beautiful and sensory-rich landscape for children birth through age 3. Sprouts features experiences with water, color and light, sensory play and graduated physical challenges.
  • Our World – Children explore an artful interpretation of a Minnesota city—complete with fire station, post office and farmer’s market—while learning the importance of community and collaboration.
  • Imaginopolis – Children use their imaginations to transform this abstract play space. Imaginopolis features a changing array of fantastical environments that inspire children to invent their own stories and share them through their play with others.
  • Super Awesome Adventures — Encourages pretend play through a combination of high-energy experiences and action-packed themes like ninjas, outer space and super heroes.
  • Creativity Jam — Encourages improvisation, collaboration and communication. Visitors discover ways to work together to transform various materials and explore how individual ideas and creations combined can make up a whole.
  • The Studio — Provides work space that is reminiscent of an artist’s studio and workshop. Visitors can explore the properties and uses of authentic tools and materials, both familiar and unfamiliar.

About Minnesota Children’s Museum

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 St. Paul, Rochester and Mall of America, 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 Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Expansion & Renovation Rendering

Minnesota Children's Museum expansion

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