Photo of a planned area in the Children’s Museum. Photo Courtesy The Great River Children’s Museum
Article written by Joseph Bahr
There will soon be another activity coming to downtown St. Cloud. The Great River Children’s Museum has been in the works since 2012.
After much planning, there are exhibits that have been drawn up, a location has been set and the board of directors hopes to have the doors open to the public by 2023.
The first plans for The Great River Children’s Museum were born from a group of “Dreamers,” said Cassie Mills, the executive director of the Great River Children’s Museum.
Glen Palm is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors for the children’s museum. Palm was the head chair of the Child and Family Studies department at St. Cloud State University until he retired in 2013. He was also a teacher and author as well.
“The original team was four people at Glen’s dining room table; he, and his wife, their friend Greg and Becky Coborn was part of the original planning team as well,’ said Mills.
“We will have eight different exhibit areas in our 25,000 square foot facility that are all thematically diverse. We will have Climber of the Clouds which will be weather themed climbing area. We have our interactive water table which is representative of the Mississippi River in our area,” said Mills.
Lining the walls were the most recent renderings of what the exhibits will be. The dreams of many people were there in display in those high-resolution renderings of what will one day come to fruition.
The ‘Water Table’ exhibit will be going where there used to be a racquetball court, will be two stories tall. This exhibit will have features that allow kids to experience the headwaters at night as well as the day using audio and visual technologies.
The building that will house the children’s museum is in the heart of downtown St. Cloud. The building was a gift from Liberty Bank. It spans 3 floors that will all be available and used by Palm and his team.
When the museum opens the building will have been completely renovated. “Every wall, every piece of plumbing, all of the HVAC, all of the lights, nothing will look the same as it does right now.” Said Mills.
“The donation of this building by Liberty Bank was valued at $1.4 million,” Mills said. “We also have two 1-million-dollar pledges.”
St. Cloud has the benefit of being an incredibly diverse community. Mills looks forward to the challenge of catering to that diversity. “What you can expect to see is a variety of people, all interacting with things in a different way but having fun!” said Mills.
Opening a children’s museum is no small feat. The Great River Children’s Museum is in the midst of a ‘capitol campaign.’ They are searching for 12 million dollars from community leaders to open their doors by 2023.
For people looking to help, The Great River Children’s Museum is always looking for volunteers in the future. If you want to make donations, you can do so on their website: https://greatrivercm.org/donate/