Gateway to Play: Access for Everyone

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.


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. Currently, those times are Sunday mornings from 9 – 10 or Tuesdays after 2 pm.

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.

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.

2019 SNAP schedule:

  • Friday, January 18, 4:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Friday, April 26, 4:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Friday, July 26, 4:30 – 7:30 pm
  • Friday, October 25, 4:30 – 7:30 pm



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
In collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense, the Children’s Museum joins more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to active duty personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and their families, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Read more here.

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. In 2019, Military Appreciation Days will take place from 9 am – 4 pm on Saturday, June 29, and Sunday, November 10.

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