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

    Volunteer Manager
    Looking for a part-time job in a dynamic, fast-paced environment? Check this out!
    The Children’s Museum is looking for a new Volunteer Manager, who will ensure the development and implementation of a robust volunteer program. Read more about this position here. Submit your completed application to Brenda Allen.


    We are not currently hiring Playwork staff, but we’d love to have your application.

  • 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.






Board of Directors

  • Brian Benshoof CEO, MRCI Worksource
  • Neal Benson Manufacturing Operations Consultant, retired from Emerson Electric
  • Heather Carlson Mankato Clinic, OB/Gyn
  • Ann Hendricks Board Chair of ISD 77 School Board
  • Barb Kaus President, Greater Mankato Area United Way
  • Kim Kleven Early Childhood Coordinator, Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial
  • Tom Koch Ridley, Inc.
  • Mark Monson MinnStar Bank, CEO/President
  • Christine Powers Partner, Abdo Eick & Meyers; Board Chair
  • Sarah Richards President & CEO, Jones Metal
  • Sue Schwickert Tech Director, Le Sueur-Henderson School District, Retired
  • Christie Skilbred Project Manager, Capstone Literacy Center/Coughlan Companies
  • Jerhod Smithback Kato Engineering, PMO Manager
  • Vance Stuehrenberg County Commissioner, Blue Earth County, MN
  • Liz Ulman Organizational Development Manager, Dotson Iron Castings
  • Chastity Valvick Consolidated Communications, Corporate Communications Manager
  • Dr. Ginger Zierdt Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Education, Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Christi Wilking Mayo Clinic Health System, Community Relations Officer

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