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.

  • Work at the Museum

    Seasonal Farmyard Playworker

    The Seasonal Farmyard Playworker will assist with farm animals, plant care, and programming spring through fall. This position will report to the Farm Manager and also perform the role of Playworker, interacting with children and families in the Museum’s outdoor space.

    This is a part-time, seasonal position, anticipated May through September. To learn more, follow this link. To apply, please submit employment application and cover letter to Gwen Donev.

  • 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

  • Donation Request

    The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota strongly supports worthy causes, organizations, and events throughout our community. We accept requests for Museum passes, coupons, materials, and other items that would make a fitting difference and, in order to make sure we can honor your request, please give us at least a three week notice.

    Follow this link to complete the Donation Request Form. Thank you!

    All contributions are subject to change, availability, and our discretion.





  • Executive Director Deb Newman deb.newman@cmsouthernmn.org
    With the Museum since Jun 2017

    I enjoy seeing the children having fun while learning and exploring throughout the Museum! Watching all the wonder in their eyes and smiles on their faces is truly heartwarming and rewarding.

  • 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!

  • 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 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    Bio coming soon!

  • Farm Manager Rochelle Koberoski
    With the Museum since Sep 2015

    I love the farm and outdoor life so this is a great job for me! I work with an incredibly talented staff and love watching our visitors explore exhibits and learn from their experiences. My favorite time of year is opening up our outdoor area in the spring and the excitement that comes with seeing the new farm animals, growing gardens, and enjoying nature and being outdoors!

  • Administrative and Database 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 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!

  • 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!

  • Exhibit Fabricator Hallie O’Connor
    With the Museum since Jun 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!

  • Lead Fabricator Luke Splinter
    With the Museum since Jun 2015

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

  • 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!

  • Accounting Clerk Darolyn Juberien
    With the Museum since Oct 2017
  • 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!

  • Janitor Jim Schumacher


  • Cathy Brown
    With the Museum since 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
    With the Museum since 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
    With the Museum since 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
    With the Museum since Mar 2016

    The Museum is such a great space for families to play, learn, and grow. Having the opportunity to be a part of an organization that has such a positive impact on the community is fantastic; every day is a great day.

  • Nicole Doyen
    With the Museum since 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
    With the Museum since 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
    With the Museum since Nov 2017

    My favorite thing about working at the Museum is being able to see children have fun in a positive, creative way. Whenever they come here, they are able to discover new activities, play creatively, and develop their skills.

  • Zach Trees
    With the Museum since Sep 2017

    I love watching children as they engage materials in creative ways and seeing the faces of our community, new and old.

  • Maddie Mardesen
  • Terri Pelkey
    With the Museum since Jun 2017

    I love being surrounded by so many creative people.

  • Naomi Ebel
    With the Museum since Dec 2016

    I love hearing out-of-context conversations between kids, watching all the ah-hah! moments, or seeing someone tear apart something I just made.

  • Chris McEachron
    With the Museum since Jun 2017

    Kids have a superpower to play. It’s awesome!

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
  • Karen Wahlstrom
  • Pam Willard
  • Laura Bowman
  • Laura Stevens