Experience Development Project, Segment I
In 2007, the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) conducted an environmental scan of early learning opportunities for children in southern Minnesota. It became apparent that the region creates few opportunities for children to engage in self-directed learning experiences in social settings; in particular, opportunities that create access to arts, culture, and heritage. This is still true today. Relying on organizations in the Twin Cities to provide arts access and arts education in hard to reach rural communities is not sustainable and will not achieve significant reach to these under-served communities. The Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota presents a unique opportunity to significantly increase, sustain, and grow access to informal learning for a large portion of greater Minnesota. As a growing regional resource, CMSM is committed to working toward the Legacy Fund goals of actively creating opportunities for all Minnesotans to get directly connected to the diverse arts, culture, and heritage of Minnesota. Legacy Funding presents an opportunity to overcome barriers of access. CMSM's proposal makes the most of these opportunities by engaging the public, and those with the most barriers to participation, in the exhibit development process; and by connecting more families to Minnesota's arts, culture, and heritage.
The Greater Mankato family population is booming, and according to the last census, overall population has increased 21%. However, the population of many rural counties in our region is shrinking. Since its founding through the passion of early childhood specialists in 2006, CMSM has been a community resource dedicated to taking a well thought out approach to developing learning experiences with the involvement of children, families, and folks throughout the community. From the volunteer developed initial traveling exhibits, to the community made TapeScape featured in Exhibit Files, to the development of an innovative Learning Experience Master Plan, CMSM has been built on community engagement. Involved decision makers include CMSM's board of directors, steering committee, learning experience advisory committee, access and outreach committee, City Center Partnership, Greater Mankato Area United Way, staff, consultants, and many others. An environmental scan, feasibility study, case studies, surveys, and evaluations have all concluded that informal learning experiences, especially those fostering creativity, are needed in southern Minnesota. You would be hard pressed to find southern Minnesotans say that we have too many, or even enough, informal learning opportunities, especially those which highlight arts, culture, and heritage.
Children's Museums Grants. $500,000 the first year and $500,000 the second year are for a competitive Arts and Cultural Heritage Grants Program-Children's Museums. The board of directors shall solicit proposals and award grants to children's museums for projects and programs that maintain or promote our cultural heritage.
1) Increased participation of children, families, and community partners in the exhibit development process.2) Increased participation in the exhibit development process by children and families experiencing barriers to participation because of socio economic factors, cultural background, geographic isolation, and ability or special need.3) Increased involvement from community stakeholders.4) Completed exhibit renderings, models, and construction drawings designed to be accessible regardless of identified participation barriers.5) Increased organizational development and capacity in delivering informal learning experiences that create access to explorations of art,culture, and heritage.6) Increased organizational capacity to effectively evaluate and report impacts.
• Assembled a cohesive team of local and non-local Minnesota talent to develop exhibit components from existing gallery concepts at a public prototyping site.
• Developed and introduced six exhibit prototypes to museum visitors.
• Developed systems and educated staff and volunteers to ensure proper maintenance and observation techniques.
• Hosted displays to raise awareness and promote CMSM at the following events.
• Developed Access Program Policies and Procedures, including access opportunities for Child and Family Service Organizations, and families and groups experiencing barriers to participation.
• Engaged Community Partner and Stakeholder organizations to plan, promote and implement 3 family access events.
• Assembled an Evaluation Team to asses and report on all outcomes.
Admission, Parties, Memberships, Contributions, and In-Kind Contributions
Jean Peterson, Retired Director, Children’s House MNSU;
Tom Riley, Retired Executive, Midwest Wireless; Beth Serrill, Partner, Blethen Gage & Krause; Dr. Katie Smentek, Pediatrician, Mankato Clinic; Laura Stevens, Greater Mankato Area United Way; Pam Willard, Director, Golden Heart Childcare