Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) will build upon a strong foundation of Minnesota Arts, Culture and Heritage (ACH) learning experiences made possible with prior MN Legacy funding support to:
- Establish new exhibits to enhance ACH learning at the Museum.
- Expand existing exhibits with additions designed to enrich ACH learning experiences.
- Enhance exhibits and Museum floor space so that social distancing and visitor safety can be instituted while minimizing the impact on play and ACH learning experience.
- Develop and implement evaluation plans to assess engagement and measure outcomes associated with CMSM exhibit and visitor experiences.
Myra Peffer (Bemidji, MN): Myra was the Executive Director of a children’s museum in Vermont, and has consulted with many museums (including the Children’s Discovery Museum) as a now-resident of Minnesota. She was recommended by the Children’s Discovery Museum, and recused herself of that scoring/discussion.
Bette Schmit (St Paul, MN): Bette Schmit is the Exhibit Developer at the Science Museum of Minnesota – recommended by Carol Aegerter, her expertise is in exhibit design and support.
Josh Ney (Minneapolis, MN): Josh Ney is a board member of the Minnesota Humanities Center, and also has experience working with the legislature and the Legacy Committee.
Minnesota Humanities Center
$625,000 each year is for grants to other children’s museums to pay for start-up costs or new exhibit and program development. Funds are to be distributed through a competitive grant process. The Minnesota Humanities Center must administer these funds using established grant mechanisms.
As a result of this project, CMSM WILL EXPERIENCE INCREASED CAPACITY to serve as a valuable resource to promote Minnesota Arts, Culture, and Heritage learning through:
- The addition of dynamic new exhibits and exhibit experiences to the Museum’s indoor and outdoor facility – enhanced to maximize visitor and staff safety and health during a pandemic.
- Robust evaluation plans developed and processes in place to document visitor engagement and impact across all Museum departments.
In addition, MORE MINNESOTANS WILL BENEFIT when current and new visitors from across our region participate at CMSM in new and deeper ACH learning experiences, with:
- Diverse audience engagement, increased memberships/admissions over the course of the project period, and enhanced regional participation.
- 90% of visitors engaged in Museum evaluation processes indicating positive engagement/learning outcomes associated with CMSM learning experiences.
- Dakota Seasons – An interactive Dakota language exhibit showcasing the seasons of the year.
- Butterfly House – An immersive outdoor pollinator exhibit focusing on monarch butterflies and host/nectar plants that support them.
- H2GO Outdoor Water Gallery – Children turn an Archimedes screw to lift water in this hands-on STEM learning experience.
- Lights, Camera, Action! A touchless, interactive light display enhances dramatic play in the Lauri Kuch Theater.
- Nature’s Harvest – A rotating Ag and Nature Labe exhibit that introduces children to the bounty of nature and Minnesota-based natural foods.
- Smaller scale exhibit enhancements took place in loft, Play Porch, Tree of Forts, Farmyard and Back 40.
EVALUATION: A Visitor Survey was conducted by an independent Evaluation Consultant in May/June. 554 Museum Members and 220 non-Members shared feedback related to their Museum experiences. Survey highlights:
- 94% indicated high levels of satisfaction.
- High marks were given for the Museum’s knowledgeable, friendly and courteous staff; fun and playful atmosphere; educational content of programming and exhibits; cleanliness
- The Power of Play was reinforced as a key element as to why families choose to participate at the Museum, with the majority noting they come to the Museum for their child to learn through play (97%); to promote the positive development of child (96%); to ignite child’s curiosity (95%).
The Consultant also conducted a survey that was distributed to CMSM Community Partners – child/family service organizations that serve families that experience disparities/inequities. 16 partners responded to the survey and indicated similar high marks (to learn through play – 97%; to promote positive development - 97%; to ignite curiosity - 92%) when it comes to why families their organization serves choose to participate at the Museum.