Access, Engagement and Experience Development – Strengthening the Core of the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
CMSM opened its new permanent site with increased capacity to serve as an informal learning center that playfully engages children, families, and school groups in interactive experiences with the art and cultural heritage of southern Minnesota. With its current appropriation, CMSM is poised to strengthen its core as an institution that promotes arts and cultural heritage learning through continued
$950,000 each year is for arts and cultural heritage grants to children's museums.Of this amount, $500,000 each year is for the Minnesota Children's Museum, including the Minnesota Children's Museum in Rochester; $150,000 each year is for the Duluth Children's Museum; $150,000 each year is for the Grand Rapids Children's Museum; and $150,000 each year is for the Southern Minnesota Children's Museum.
1. CMSM WILL EXPERIENCE INCREASED CAPACITY to promote MN arts and cultural heritage through:a. Remediation and extended development of exhibits designed to provide interactive experiences related to MN arts and cultural heritage.b. Identifying arts and cultural heritage features interwoven into multiple facets of the Museum environment; Developing curricula based upon these features that will be implemented with school/early learning group visitors.2. 150 SCHOOL/EARLY LEARNING GROUPS from across Minnesota will increase awareness about MN arts and cultural heritage through exploration of Museum exhibits and engagement in hands-on activities during field trip visits.3. 5,000 “ACCESS” VISITORS (representing audiences that experience barriers to participation due to limited income, language/cultural factors, isolation, ability/special needs) will increase awareness about MN arts and cultural heritage through exploration of Museum exhibits and engagement in hands-on activities.
The most significant exhibit remediation/development taking place as a result of this funding included refinement of the Farmyard/Back 40 – including installation of signage, concrete, outdoor electrical hook-up, as well as overall landscaping and the addition of an animal shade awning (yet to be installed). Initial development/piloting of an augmented reality sandbox, sound abatement remediation in the loft for more successful school group learning, and smaller-scale exhibit development/remediation efforts across other Museum galleries resulted in significant enhancements to the visitor experience (please refer to photo documentation). Museum staff across all departments engaged in a process to inventory Museum A&CH features during a two-part staff education discussion/activity. The results of these efforts were used to develop a Museum Explorer’s Guide designed to inform/engage visitors around the multitude of A&CH features that are embedded throughout the Museum. CMSM staff engaged with faculty/students from Gustavus Adolphus College to develop an evaluation strategy to assess what MN Arts and Cultural Heritage learning looks like for young visitors that engage at the Museum. A Timing & Tracking observational tool was implemented with 73 children visiting the Quarry and Grow It Gallery. Data collected through this tool noted time spent in each gallery by age group as a measure of “exposure” and awareness-learning at the Museum. 153 group visits took place over the course of this project. Group visit feedback was solicited from educators using an on-line post-visit survey tool. Over 6,250 Museum visitors participated in Museum access opportunities. Feedback received from families participating in Museum access events was solicited through written surveys and post-it feedback activities. Visitor feedback indicated high levels of satisfaction with their Museum experience, along with identified learnings on the part of both children and adults.