Gateway to Play:

Access for All

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is committed to ensuring all children and families have opportunities to experience the joy of learning through the power of play at the Museum, regardless of income, language, cultural factors, ability, or special needs. The Museum understands that some children and families experience barriers to participation. We offer many ways for these valued community members to enjoy our exhibits and programs free of charge or at greatly reduced rates.

2022 | Gateway to Play by the numbers

Access Family Memberships
$ 1 k
50% had an annual income of less than
1 %
of CMSM memberships were Access memberships
Median age of children served


Gateway to Play for children and families offers opportunities such as Free Family Fun Days or Gateway to Play Museum membership or daily admission.

Gateway to Play for nonprofit organizations serving children and families who experience participation barriers offers free family admission passes and streamlined Gateway to Play membership opportunities for their constituents.

To apply for Gateway to Play Membership, download and complete the membership form and survey (versión en español aquí). Bring completed forms to the Museum front desk and stay to play! Completed forms may also be mailed to the Museum or emailed to: kim.kleven@cmsouthernmn.org.

NEW! Gateway to Baby Play Museum Memberships are available to families of newborns and first-time parents up to their child’s first birthday.  This Membership includes free admission for two parents and their baby until their first birthday. Around the baby’s first birthday, this Membership will lapse and you may transition to another Membership level.  Apply here.


The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota welcomes children and families of all abilities. Children with sensory sensitivities and their families are invited to enjoy the Museum at a time when there are typically fewer Museum visitors present.

Sound-muffling headphones are available by request at the Museum front desk. Do not hesitate to connect with a Museum staff member if you need assistance at any time, or if you would like direction to a quieter space to relax or regroup.

To help prepare for your visit to the Children’s Museum, please download our social story, “A Trip to the Children’s Museum,” which includes a helpful checklist of possible activities during your visit. For groups, check out this version of our social story.

Sensory Friendly Opportunities at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
Accommodations for Children with Sensory Needs at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota

Sensory Awareness & Accessibility Playtime

These quarterly events invite children with sensory challenges or other special needs and their families to experience and enjoy the Museum free of charge at a time when there is a limited number of visitors present.

2023 Schedule:

Sponsored by the Southern Minnesota Autism Coalition

Sensory Sensitive Play Experiences at the Childrens Museum of Southern Minnesota
Military Service Recognition at the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota


The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota seeks to recognize Military Service members and their families for the significant contributions they have made on behalf of our community and nation. Military members and their immediate family members receive a 10% discount on daily admission rates.

Blue Star Museum Initiative

Traditionally hosted at museums across the country between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, Blue Star Museums offer free admission for active duty military personnel and their families. 

The 2023 Blue Star Museum Initiative at CMSM will take place from Saturday, May 20 – Sunday, September 3. Please present one of the following upon check-in at the Front Desk: Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or DD From 1173 -1 ID.  The active duty military family member does not need to be present in order for their family to visit the Museum.

Military Appreciation Days

These special events take place at the Museum twice a year to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Military Service members–past and present–and their families and includes free Museum admission.

2023 Military Appreciation Days will take place on  June 30–July 2 and November 11.
This work is funded in part through grant support provided by U.S. Bank Foundation