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.

2019 | Gateway to Play by the numbers

Access Family Memberships
$ 1 k
46% had an annual income of less than
Visitors during free events
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.

Gateway to Play for school or early learning groups offers half-price group visit admission rates to groups where 50% of enrolled students experience access barriers.

To apply for a Gateway to Play Museum membership, download and complete this form and survey.

For more information about any of these opportunities, please contact Sue Larsen, Community Impact Director.


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

Special needs accessibility playtime (SNAP)

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.

Due to COVID-19, the 2021 SNAP schedule is currently pending. Please check back soon for updates!

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 – 2020 Season Cancelled

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organizers behind the Blue Star Initiative (National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense) have decided it is in the best interest to cancel the 2020 Blue Star Museums season. Traditionally held between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Blue Star Museums has provided free admission to participating museums for active duty military personnel and their families. The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota has been a proud participant in the past and looks forward to joining this initiative again in the future. 

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.

Many thanks to Morson-Ario-Strand VFW Post 950 and Eagles Aerie 269 Mankato for providing funding to help support Military Appreciation initiatives at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in 2020.

For more information about any of these opportunities,