About Us

  • Vision & Mission

    Vision Statement
    The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is the catalyst for building a stronger, more vibrant community around play so that all children in our region share in a bright future of opportunity and well-being.

    Mission Statement
    Ignite the natural curiosity of every child through the power of play in a dynamic, awe-inspiring environment.

    Organizational Goal
    Over the next five years, we will establish sustainable operations and grow the new Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota’s audience and impact.

  • See What You’re Supporting

    Newly opened at its fantastic and permanent location in Mankato, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, features exhibits, activities, and spaces to engage all ages. From the Betsy Tacy-inspired Play Porch to the mind-inspiring attractions of the two-level makers space, and with a towering Mankato Clinic Tree of Forts Climber so tall that it burst through the roof, there’s plenty to do and see — all within a safe, inviting, and comfortable space. Follow this link to browse a gallery of the Museum’s interior and exterior spaces. Courtesy of ISG, photos by Dean Riggott Photography.

    Take a peek at the Children’s Museum’s indoor and outdoor galleries by watching the video by True Facade Pictures:

  • Strategic Plan

    We are pleased to share with you the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota’s first five-year strategic plan as an open museum. Click here to download the Museum’s 2015 – 2020 strategic plan.

  • Learning Experience Master Plan

    The Museum’s Learning Experience Master Plan is comprised of these components:

    • A Learning Framework, which consolidates CMSM’s learning interests related to its audience, learning, and impacts.
    • An Exhibit Experience Approach, which builds on the Framework and distills the experiential nature of the Museum’s exhibits and environments.
    • Gallery Concepts, based on the Exhibit Experience Approach, identifies and describes a set of concepts for interactive exhibits and environments.

    Follow this link to download the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota’s Learning Experience Master Plan.

  • History

    Inspired by every child’s enormous promise and readiness to learn, a group of educators, business leaders, and community members envisioned opening a children’s museum for families across the region. In 2006, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota was granted official 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status and began forging ahead with mission. The Museum’s clear vision—to provide a safe and inviting place for children to play, learn, and grow—allowed it to provide museum experiences in three temporary locations over the past several years.  At the same time, dedicated community members remained devoted to making their vision of a permanent museum a reality.  Thanks to the support of generous individuals, businesses, local civic organizations, and families, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota found a permanent home in the City of Mankato’s former Mass Transit Building. It made its amazing transformation into an awe-inspiring children’s museum over the course of many exciting months from the summer of 2014 to May 1st, 2015.

    The glimmering Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota that exists today builds upon the hard-won successes of its past. At its prior locations, the Museum’s exhibit prototypes and hands-on activities attracted over 50,000 visitors from 53 Minnesota counties and 25 states, and hosted over 100 field trips and group visits. The Museum Access Program’s efforts helped enrich the lives of over 1,800 children who would have otherwise been challenged by one or more barriers to participation. Regular programming offered at the interim sites covered a variety of topics, from the agriculture of Southern Minnesota to the physics of rockets. The Museum also provided a playful presence at many off-site events, such as Arts by the River, Songs on the Lawn, and the Mankato Marathon.

    The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota now welcomes the public to its new, permanent home in downtown Mankato. The new site features place-based exhibits and dynamic hands-on programming, all designed to stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), agriculture, and arts, while also calling attention to Southern Minnesota heritage and Dakota culture.

  • Internships at the Museum

    Graphic Design Intern

    The Graphic Design Intern will support the Museum’s Marketing and Communications team by helping to design and produce internal and external communications and marketing materials. This is an unpaid position and is applicable towards course credit. Minimum required hours are 10 per week. Click here to read more.

    To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Ines Wingert, the Museum’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator


    Program Intern

    The program intern will assist the Program Manager with prepping, supporting, observing, and evaluating programming at the Museum. This is an unpaid position, available immediately. Minimum required hours are 12 per week. Click here to read more.

    To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Brenda Allen, the Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator.


    School Group Intern

    The School Group Intern will support the Museum’s programming team by helping to develop and implement program activities and resources for the Museum’s school group programs. The intern in this role will work closely with Museum programming staff, as well as educators and students who visit the Museum. This is an unpaid position, available immediately. Minimum required hours are 12 per week. We are currently accepting applications for Fall 2017.  Click here to read more.

    To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Brenda Allen, the Museum’s Volunteer Coordinator.



  • Executive Director Deb Newman deb.newman@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since June 2017
  • Development Director Laura Stevens laura.stevens@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since June 2014

    My favorite thing about working at the Museum is that I get to spend time in a place that is making such a difference for children and families in our community. I especially love watching grandparents and grandkids interact together in our exhibits.

  • Marketing and Communications Coordinator Ines Wingert ines.wingert@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Aug 2014

    Bio coming soon!

  • Senior Director of Exhibits and Education Deb Johnson deb.johnson@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Oct 2012

    I love working with a team of highly creative, talented, and passionate people to create amazing experiences for children and families. I love that our Museum began due to the grit of early childhood teachers and continues to develop based on learning from prototyping.  I love that we work with our community to provide access for our community. Oh, I also love ideas and natural materials!

  • Education and Program Manager Mia Forslund mia.forslund@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Jan 2015

    My favorite thing about my job is having the chance to meet so many wonderful people! Through the programs I manage, I connect with students, educators, families, community leaders, and our team at the Museum. The experiences and insights they share mean so much to me and make coming to work a lot of fun.

  • Community Outreach and Impact Director Sue Larsen sue.larsen@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Jan 2012

    I love being able to see the joy of learning through the power of play on the faces of children and their caregivers every time I step onto the Museum floor. I also love working with an incredibly passionate and creative team of co-workers that inspire me every day.

  • Volunteer Coordinator Brenda Allen brenda.allen@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Feb 2015

    My favorite thing about my job is that I have the privilege to go to work each day with a group of innovative people in an awesome environment. I enjoy the excitement of children and families as they play and learn together, discovering something new at each visit. And sometimes I play too!

  • Director of Finance and Administration Gwen Donev gwen.donev@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Jan 2015

    My favorite thing about my job is working in a happy place that families and kiddos look forward to coming to; I love the laughter and the awe, and the cries when it’s time to go home. I love working with a staff that is good at what they do and always thinking about how to make this place even better. Except we don’t cry when it’s time to go home!

  • Visitor Experience Coordinator Anissa Sandland anissa.sandland@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Mar 2015

    I love seeing the interaction between the children and adults at the Museum. Something special happens when adults let down their guard and play. I highly recommend it!

  • Scheduling and Administrative Coordinator Jackie Mann jackie.mann@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Feb 2015

    My favorite thing about working at the Museum is being a part of such an amazing organization! Every day I come into work and see smiling faces. I love working for an organization that actually wants my children to play, learn, and grow just as much as I do!

  • Visitor Experience Director Kaaren Grabianowski events@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Nov 2015

    I love working on our fundraising events and helping people plan events at the Museum! Whether it is a birthday party, company picnic, family reunion, or a wedding reception, we have one of best venues in town that is fun for all ages!

  • Farm Manager Rochelle Koberoski
    With the Museum since Sep 2015

    I have always loved the farm, garden, and outdoor life so this is a great job for me! I get to do all the things I love and the staff I work with are wonderful. Two of my favorite things are getting the first animals here in the spring, much to the excitement of our visitors, and watching a Museum visitor try out a new AgLab tabletop for the first time – taking delight in all the new features and learning from their experience.

  • Lead Fabricator Luke Splinter
    With the Museum since June 2015

    My favorite thing about working at the Museum is that I get to build something different almost everyday.

  • Exhibit Fabricator Hallie O’Connor
    With the Museum since June 2015

    What I like most about my job is the opportunity to contribute to such an impactful organization with a team of people who care so deeply for our Museum. I love being a part of it!

  • Building and Grounds Manager Garron Williams
    With the Museum since Mar 2016

    My favorite things about working at the Museum are the opportunities I have to take on new challenges, and working with people who are so passionate about their jobs. I also enjoy having the animals around!

  • Janitor Jim Schumacher
  • Accounting Clerk and Database Coordinator Darolyn Juberien
  • Visitor Experience Assistant Sarah Barta
    With the Museum since Apr 2015

    My favorite thing about working at the Museum is seeing all of the happy faces come in each day. I also enjoy getting to watch children that come in regularly grow!

  • Museum Educator Amy Byro
    With the Museum since Dec 2016

    My favorite thing about my job is hearing what the kids have to say. From what they are currently working on, to what they are learning at school, or even something else on their mind. Kids have a great imagination!


  • Cathy Brown
    Years of Service Apr 2015

    I love being able to play and share with the kids, and see the excitement in their eyes as they explore new things. It has been fun to watch how they have changed and matured in the years since I began work here. Being a Playworker at the Museum is a dream job!

  • Karmy Luker
    Years of Service Mar 2016

    My favorite part about the Museum is the close relationships I’ve built with visitors, and having the opportunity to welcome new faces as well. I like being known as, “You’re the person I built that really cool fort with!”.

  • Tyler Barton
    Years of Service Mar 2016

    My favorite thing about my job at the Museum is watching and encouraging kids to perform. Whether it’s on the stage, in the backyard, around the kitchen, or up in the Loft, I love it when children feel free and confident enough to show others what they can do.

  • Wyatt Miller
  • Nicole Doyen
    Years of Service Oct 2016

    I like working at the Museum because I love to watch the kids play. It’s fun to see them explore and learn new things. I also love being able to interact with children and their families. It’s a great place to play!

  • Rose Shrader
    Years of Service Apr 2017

    I love working with children in such an organic environment. Fostering their interest in learning and sharing the things that I love is so much fun. I couldn’t ask for a more engaging and welcoming group of people to work with, too!

  • Bethany Haus
  • Maddie Mardesen
  • Terri Pelkey
  • Naomi Ebel
  • Chris McEachron
  • Elena Gottlick

Board of Directors

  • Brian Benshoof CEO, MRCI Worksource
  • Neal Benson Manufacturing Operations Consultant, retired from Emerson Electric
  • Laura Bowman Director of Community Relations and Development at Mayo Clinic Health System, Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota Board Chair
  • Brad Brozik Wells Fargo
  • Heather Carlson Mankato Clinic
  • Ann Hendricks Board Chair of ISD 77 School Board
  • Barb Kaus President, Greater Mankato Area United Way
  • Linda Kilander Retired Principal, Mankato Area Public Schools
  • Kim Kleven Early Childhood Coordinator, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial
  • Tom Koch Ridley, Inc.
  • Christine Powers Partner, Abdo Eick & Meyers
  • Sarah Richards President & CEO, Jones Metal
  • Christie Skilbred Project Manager, Capstone Literacy Center/Coughlan Companies
  • Sara Steinbach Regional Manager, Public Affairs & Marketing, Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Keith Stover Retired President, South Central College
  • Vance Stuehrenberg County Commissioner, Blue Earth County, MN
  • Liz Ulman Organizational Development Manager, Dotson Iron Castings
  • Elizabeth Weinandt Weinandt Law Offices
  • Dr. Ginger Zierdt Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Founding Board

  • Linda Frost
  • Mary Jo Hensel
  • Heidi Hudson-Roberts
  • Lyle Jacobson
  • Deborah Kreidermacher
  • Eric Lennartson
  • Jean Peterson
  • Kristee Richards
  • Laura Stevens
  • Karen Wahlstrom
  • Pam Willard
  • Laura Bowman