Great River Children’s Museum Blog

Our Newest Future Member

Congratulations go out to Vincent and Cassie Miles on the birth of their baby boy, Desmond. He has been nominated to receive the first museum membership by several of our board members. Vincent, owner of Miles Psychological Services, joined the board of the Great River Children’s Museum in April of this year. His wife, Cassie, has served on the GREAT Theater board and he was looking for a way to give back to the community as well. When he heard about the children’s museum project, he was intrigued by the opportunity to get involved on the ground floor of such an exciting project. The idea of bringing a children’s museum to town that his own son would be able to enjoy only added to the appeal.

Vincent has been a great asset to the project. As a business owner, he brings an understanding of many aspects of operations from managing to marketing. As a psychologist, he understands people and the benefits a children’s museum brings to the community. By raising the quality of life for families in the area, we bring a higher level of psychological well being to everyone. This is a resource that will be available for him to share with his clients in his practice. In Vincent’s words, “A local children’s museum presents an extraordinary opportunity to bring our community together, promoting learning through curiosity, and ultimately strengthening our humanity.”

New Name!

As you may have noticed, the Great River Children’s Exploratorium is now officially the Great River Children’s Museum! The board voted unanimously at the October 15th meeting to change the name after being approached by The Exploratorium in San Francisco. The word exploratorium is trademarked by this museum and when we started getting media attention for our project, they reached out to let us know we were not able to use the name.

The board agreed that we wanted to keep Great River as part of our identity because of the importance of the Mississippi River in our region. We look forward to educating people about the river through an indoor, interactive water play feature. We hope it will be a cornerstone exhibit.

We agreed that Children’s Museum was the best way to describe us. A children’s museum is something that many people are familiar with and associate with the high quality programming we plan to deliver. For those who don’t know what a children’s museum is, we look forward to showing them a place for playful, hands-on learning geared toward children ages zero to ten and appealing to the child in all of us.

The name change process will continue over the next several weeks. During this time you may notice the change reflected in our website, social media and printed materials. We are thankful to receive notice of this issue early in the project, while the financial impact of this shift is still very minimal. Overall, having a name that our entire board has agreed upon will be a positive for the organization once the transition is complete.

Fundraising Update


We have reached our matching goal! Releasing these funds is a great step for our organization. It has been a wonderful way to engage smaller donors to help them make a larger impact. We hope another donor will come forward with a new match to help us continue this momentum!

We have met with a board developer, museum planner, and professional fundraiser to discuss how they can help our group as we go forward with this big project. They have given us bids for their work which the board will consider at our next meeting. All have wonderful skills and would be assets to our project. We will need to decide what makes the most sense for our next steps as we look forward to taking ownership of the Liberty Bank building in December. Our immediate fundraising needs are for initial costs estimated at $250,000. These funds will pay for such things as professional consultants, building maintenance, and community outreach. We will then focus on covering the cost of renovations and exhibits, which will be near $10 million.

We trust that as building designs are being developed, local businesses will choose to sponsor various features and exhibits. We will be reaching out to businesses in the coming months. In the meantime, if you are connected to an organization that would like to discuss sponsoring an exhibit, please reach out via email to info@greatriverce.org to be connected to one of our board members.

Donations are always being accepted to help with startup costs.  Send your tax deductible donation now via PayPal or mail a check to our treasurer at:

Great River Children’s Exploratorium
℅ Greg Reigstad
1126 7th Avenue North
Saint Cloud, MN 56303

Emerging Museum

EconomicImpact
The Great River Children’s Exploratorium has been a member of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) at the level of an emerging museum for several years. This membership gives our board and planning group access to educational opportunities at minimal cost. The infographic shown here was released as part of the most recent research into the economic impact of children’s museums. As you can see, the investment in a children’s museum has an immense ripple effect on other areas of the local and regional economy. Children’s museums provide jobs and drive growth in other industries. We appreciate the ACM gathering the data to support what we know intuitively. This information supports the work we are doing to bring a children’s museum to Central Minnesota. Learn more about the Association of Children’s Museums at childrensmuseums.org.

With so many needs in the world…

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the hurt in the world? We are constantly bombarded from countless media sources by all the bad news of poverty, natural disaster, political disaster, and suffering of every shape and size. Do you ask yourself why you should give to a children’s museum with so many needs to be addressed? This is an excellent question!

The answer is that you should give for all of those reasons and more. Children’s museums bring communities together, create jobs, and bring change to communities. Having a museum in our community creates opportunities for children who might never have this rich learning experience. Visiting the museum together will bring area families closer to each other by giving them high quality, hands-on play that builds relationships. The museum will be a place for children to learn creativity, collaboration and other skills necessary for success in a future we cannot yet fathom.

In order to make our world and community better, we need to address challenges that are happening here and now. We need to repair the hurts of the past. But the real key is to create solutions that will prevent problems before they occur. Our community has a unique opportunity with this project to create a wonderful resource that will improve the lives of everyone in the St. Cloud area for generations to come. We hope you will join us by donating today and helping spread the word about this project.

A Community Investment by Liberty Bank

Artist’s Rendering

Dan Miller, Mark Bragelman and Robin Gohman of Liberty Bank Minnesota are a few of the people we need to give special recognition. They have made a huge contribution to this organization and the community through the donation of the $1.4 million downtown Liberty Bank building to the Great River Children’s Exploratorium. We are honored and thrilled to be given this gift. We pledge to use our passion and expertise, along with the involvement of the community, to transform this space into one of play, exploration and learning.

Dan Miller and Becky Coborn started it all with a simple conversation. Becky had been working with GRCE in our location search. Dan Miller, as Chairman of the Board for Liberty Bank Minnesota, was in the process of building a new bank headquarters on 2nd Street South. Liberty Bank wanted to make their previous location a gift to St. Cloud and to downtown. A children’s museum was the perfect fit!

Mark Bragelman, President of Liberty Bank, has been very supportive throughout the process. With his expertise and 43 years of service at the downtown location, he has been a great resource and support. “This is where we live,” he said of the philanthropy of the individuals and the organization as he addressed the St. Cloud City Council. The children’s museum will be “something this community can be really proud of.”

Robin Gohman is currently the manager of the downtown bank. She has been extremely welcoming to our team as we have been on multiple tours of the building. We are thankful to her for her hospitality as we explore the ins and outs of our future home, while she is still operating the bank which will remain open until November.
We cannot say enough how grateful we are to be gifted this building. Our planning group was immediately struck by how well the Liberty Bank building fit our criteria: size, location, operating costs, and more. The building is in excellent shape and there is a lot of potential. As the community continues to share its resources, creativity and hard work, we will have fun together developing the space into a children’s museum.

Becky’s Mission and Vision for Central Minnesota

Becky Coborn is one of the first people to join the children’s museum project. In 2013, she began working as a licensed parent educator in ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) in Sauk Rapids-Rice School District. Her own children were grown and flown from the nest and she felt compelled to invest in the children of her community, their parents and families. She completed her master’s degree in Child and Family Studies from St. Cloud State University in 2016. For her thesis project, Becky researched the impact of children’s museums on parents in communities. She found that children’s museums help parents to better understand child development and how to encourage their child’s learning.

Becky has a deep love for the St. Cloud area and a desire to see our community thrive. While raising her children, she served as a volunteer in many different capacities at Sacred Heart Elementary School, Cathedral High School, College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. She strongly believes that building a children’s museum is the next best step for Central Minnesota.

Becky understands that the early years are a crucial stage in a child’s growth and development. Having a place for families to come where kids can be free to play, explore and try new skills in a safe, rich learning environment will have long-term benefits to the entire community. She hopes to see parents connecting with their children through the museum experience and gaining knowledge about child development. When families grow stronger, communities grow stronger.

Children at Play

There is something magical about children at play. Adults often reminisce about childhoods spent roaming the neighborhood, playing with other children, not an adult in sight, told to come back when it got dark. Some communities even sounded a horn to tell the kids it was time to head home.

When Jacob Wetterling was abducted, reality changed for generations of children in central Minnesota. Adults no longer feel safe letting kids venture distances unsupervised. Children’s free time is now filled with scheduled “play dates” and structured activities. Parents are busier working to pay for kids’ activities, planning, driving and juggling schedules.

Government initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have put the spotlight on schools’ test scores. Learning has become less about developing a natural curiosity and drive to discover and more about benchmarks and test taking skills. Experienced educators know that it’s skills like resiliency, emotional intelligence and self-control that determine success in life and these are skills best learned through the free play that is getting pressed out of school days and busy lives.

Play is a basic need of young children and adults alike. It is the way human brains are wired to learn. It is crucial for stress relief and mental health. One of modern society’s greatest challenges has become finding ways to get back to our roots of play. Play includes those creative experiences that happen when we carve out the space and time for free exploration, trial and error, and creating with others.

The Great River Children’s Exploratorium will be a place where parents can sit back, relax and delight in their children’s play. A place they can be confident that their children are safe to explore and learn. A safe haven, away from the noise of daily life, where adult caregivers can play and rediscover their inner child. While geared toward children from birth to ten, it will meet a need deep inside all of us.