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Expansion and Renovation Facts
The Basics: Bigger, Better & Bolder
- Bigger: 10 new exhibits, plus a gallery for special exhibits; 11 exhibits total, up from seven previously
- Better: New café, new box office, another elevator, more bathrooms, renovated party spaces
- Bolder: Giving kids space and freedom to explore and learn
The museum features 10 new permanent exhibits, plus a special exhibits gallery. Before the expansion, the museum had five permanent exhibits and two traveling exhibit galleries.
Four-story vertical adventure with climbing towers, spiral slide and netted catwalk suspended more than 40-feet high
Forces at Play
Air-powered ball launchers and a wacky car wash
Super Awesome Adventures
Laser maze, carpet skates, balance boards and green-screen climbing wall
Quirky outdoor space for exploring the natural world (opening June 2017)
A fantastical play space where children shape and share their own stories
Lively and bright collaborative space with face-painting, loose parts and surprising materials
Joyful landscape of discovery for babies and toddlers
Kids play various roles in a vibrant Minnesota city with a fire station, hardware store, post office, food stand and more
Visitors tinker, make and create with real tools and authentic materials
Tip Top Terrace
Outdoor space on the roof to see, hear and talk about the city (opening June 2017)
The Scramble: Four-Story Climbing Adventure
The Scramble is a four-story climbing adventure that occupies a new glass addition along West Seventh Street. It is a custom-built, one-of-a-kind structure.
- Climb up and down two four-story towers
- Whirl and whoosh down a spiral slide
- Test their courage on a netted catwalk suspended more than 40 feet high
Kids activate their brains and brawn as they go up, down and through The Scramble. Using their bodies to solve problems and tackle challenges, they climb and clamber up two towers and whoosh down a spiral slide.
The most daring scramblers tumble and bounce on a netted catwalk suspended more than 40 feet high.
In The Scramble, children learn to take responsible risks while they build confidence and develop endurance, balance and motor skills.
Great New Amenities
The museum listened to its visitors and added a variety of amenities to make visits more convenient and comfortable for adults and kids alike.
- New cafe with coffee bar and store
- Additional entrance on the skyway level
- Second floor box office
- Another elevator
- Twice as many bathrooms
- Comfort rooms
- More seating
- More stroller parking
- Renovated birthday party spaces
Appeal to Older Kids
The new exhibits broaden the museum’s appeal to an older age range of children. Among the activities that kids up to age 12 (or even older) will enjoy:
- The Scramble – Two climbing towers, spiral slide and netted catwalk
- Super Awesome Adventures – Laser maze, carpet skate park and balance board
- The Studio – Real tools and authentic materials
- Creativity Jam – Collaborative art and building, plus stop-motion animation
The new exhibits focus on open-ended activities that put children and their imaginations in the driver’s seat.
- Kids develop lifelong skills such as creative thinking, confidence, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and more
- Imagining possibilities, tinkering, storytelling, sharing, working together, trying new things, making adjustments
- Activities that put the focus more on the doing, less on the outcome
- Activities without directions — seeing the power of kids figuring out things on their own
- Avoiding telling children what to do and how to do it
- Avoiding asking kids to memorize facts and figures
The museum moved the fun to the front of the building, adding more room to play and making it more comfortable and easier to get around. Activities are now visible from busy West Seventh Street.
- 35% more space for visitors
- New glass facade housing The Scramble, a four-story vertical adventure
- New main staircase for easier access to galleries and improved sight lines
- Additional entrance and new box office on the skyway level
- Street-level administrative offices converted to exhibit space
- Updated rooftop experience
- New outdoor exhibit on the street level
- Expansion from 65,000 to 74,000 square feet
Expansion & Renovation Timeline
- Construction began in December 2015
- Museum closed in December 2016 to complete construction
- Museum re-opens June 2017
Funding & Donors
- $30 million expansion and renovation project
- $14 million from the State of Minnesota
- $1 million from City of Saint Paul
- Other supporters include Target, 3M, Best Buy and more than 350 corporations, foundations and individuals.
- General admission tickets will cost $12.95 for ages 1 to 101. The previous price was $9.95. The museum has not increased its admission price since 2014.
- Membership prices are $129 for Passport, $159 for Deluxe and $189 for Premier. Member families get unlimited free admission for a year. Previous membership pricing began at $99. For many families, the price of a membership pays for itself in two or three visits.
- 1981 – Museum opens in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis
- 1985 – Museum moves to Bandana Square in St. Paul
- 1995 – Museum moves to a newly constructed building in downtown St. Paul
- 2017 – Newly expanded and renovated museum opens
Need for Expansion & Renovation
- This project is the first major renovation since the museum opened its downtown St. Paul location in 1995
- Annual attendance since opening in downtown St. Paul grew 50% from 300,000 to 450,000. There were days when the museum felt too crowded.
- Prior to the expansion and renovation, the permanent exhibits were starting to show their age. Many had undergone few changes since the downtown St. Paul location opened in 1995
- Visitor flow and amenities: Previous layout had narrower hallways, limited sight lines, fewer bathrooms and no café
- Updated approach to exhibit design: More focus on open-ended activities that give children space and freedom to explore
Museum Attendance & Other Facts
- More than 430,000 visitors per year
- 16,000 member families, including 3,500 free memberships for low-income families
- Minnesota Children’s Museum is a non-profit organization
Touches of the “Old Museum”
- The popular Paint Your Own Face activity is now part of the Creativity Jam exhibit
- The Queen Ant from the anthill in the retired Earth World gallery found a new home in the Backyard
- The conveyor belt from the factory in the retired World Works gallery is now part of the post office in the updated Our World
- Our World is the only exhibit name to carry through into the all-new museum. The exhibit has been entirely updated and moved from the 2nd Floor to the 4th Floor
- The tree in the reading nook in the new Sprouts gallery came from the paper factory in the retired World Works gallery
Architect, Builder and Exhibit Design/Production
- Expansion and renovation architect: MSR (Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle)
- General contractor: JE Dunn Construction
- Exhibit design support: Gyroscope, Inc.
- Exhibit production support: KidZibits, VStar Entertainment Group
News Media Contacts
Director of Strategic Communications
Expansion & Renovation Renderings/Photos
Photo Credit: Courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum
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