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

    The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, opened its doors at the current location in May 2015. The Museum 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.

  • Board of Directors

    Board Chair:
    Kim Kleven – Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial, Early Childhood Coordinator

    Heather Carlson – Mankato Clinic, OB/GYN
    Ann Hendricks – ISD77 School Board, Board Officer
    Barb Kaus – Greater Mankato Area United Way, CEO
    Tom Koch – Ridley Inc./Hubbard, Director of Organizational Development
    Mark Monson – Minnstar, President
    Trevor Park – United Prairie Bank, Credit Analyst
    Sarah Richards – Jones Metal, President & CEO
    Sue Schwickert – Le Sueur/Henderson School District, retired Technology Director
    Paul Shneider – Blethen Berens, Partner
    Christie Skilbred – Coughlan Companies, Capstone, and Jordan Sands – Corporate Giving and Literacy Center Manager
    Parker Skophammer – City of Mankato, City Manager Assistant
    Jerhod Smithback – Nidec, Vice President
    Liz Ulman – Dotson Iron Casting, Vice President
    Chastity Valvick – Compeer Financial, Communications Consultant
    Shane VanEngen – Bremer Bank, Market President
    Heather VonBank – Minnesota State University, Mankato, Department of Family and Consumer Science Chair
    Christi Wilking – Mayo Clinic Health System, Community Relations Officer



  • 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.

  • Founding Board Members

    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

  • Work at the Museum

    We’re hiring! At the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, we believe our team is part of something extraordinary. Our Museum is community-built and community-sustained, with a mission to ignite the natural curiosity of every child through the power of play in a dynamic, awe-inspiring environment.

    Farmyard Assistant

    If you have a background in agriculture and experience working with livestock, this may be the right fit for you! The Children’s Museum is looking for a responsible, self-motivated, and flexible individual to join our dynamic team and help create interesting farm animal-based programming for young children. The Farmyard Assistant will report to the Senior Manager of Museum Experiences and assist with on-site livestock care and provide upkeep on farm structures, tools, and equipment.

    This is a paid internship, preferably from mid-May through Labor Day, 30 hr/week, with some evening and weekend hours expected. Application deadline: January 15, 2020.

    Read more about this position here. If you would like to be considered, please send your application and resume to Debra Zellar.


    At the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, Playworkers facilitate gallery and exhibit experiences by enthusiastically interacting with and engaging children and families. We are actively seeking candidates for part-time shifts (10-12 hours per week) on our Museum Experiences Team.

    To read more about this position, click here. If you would like to be considered, please send your application and resume to Debra Zellar.

    Front Desk Staff

    The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is always accepting applications for Front Desk Staff! Our Front Desk Staff is the first point of contact for Museum visitors and oversees the Museum’s front desk, café, and gift shop while on duty. We are not actively seeking new staff at this time, but we’d love to have your application on file. If you would like to be considered, please send your application and resume to Debra Zellar and we may contact you as openings arise. To read more about this position, click here.

  • 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.