Great River Children’s Museum Blog

We Want Mail

We have a mailbox! The Great River Children’s Museum will be receiving bills and, we hope, donations at the new location. It would bring us joy to receive your family or organization’s holiday photo card. Seeing supporters’ faces will encourage our board and community members as they work to develop a place for children and their caring adults to discover, explore, and be inspired through the extraordinary power of play. We would also welcome notes of support with ideas for activities and exhibits you would like to see in the museum.  Address all mail to:

Great River Children’s Museum
111 7th Avenue South
St. Cloud, MN 56301

Everyone at the Great River Children’s Museum hopes you and your loved ones enjoy many play-filled moments together this holiday season!

Our Busy Board

The Great River Children’s Museum Board of Directors has had an extremely busy month. From board development to moving day, it has been several weeks of milestone events. You can learn more about our board members here.

Nov. 17 – The board attended a retreat facilitated by Linda Holliday and Kathy Gaalswyk of Impact Minnesota. During the retreat they were able to learn about board member roles, review bylaws, define their mission and values, and form committees. The committees are working groups including community engagement, fund development, finance, facilities and personnel. There will be a follow-up retreat coming early next year.

Nov. 28 – Mark Bragelman, Robin Gohman and other representatives from Liberty Bank brought our group on a tour of the Great River Children’s Museum’s soon-to-be home. Museum planners Jeanne Vergeront and Jim Roe met with the board and planning group to share their ideas about how the building could be used to bring community members inside to join in the museum planning process and play together. It was exciting to dream about using this new space.

Dec. 4 – Closing day! Board members Glen Palm, Greg Reigstad and Becky Coborn were present for the signing of the documents and the handing over of the codes and keys.

Since that day, it has been fun exploring the building, discovering which key fits in which lock and which code opens which door. There has also been the work of moving in, with furniture that was donated by Coborn’s, Inc. Thanks to a Thrivent Action Team, we were able to purchase paper products and other supplies needed to host our volunteer board and committees for work in our new space. After a tour with the fire marshall, the facilities committee has a list of initial work that needs to take place in the building in order to safely host family friendly events.

Dec. 10 – The Great River Children’s Museum Board of Directors held its first meeting in the new location. The results of the board retreat were voted on and made official. The board has grown over the past six months from three voting members to fourteen. Solidifying the foundational documents and board structure has been a major focus of the board’s most recent time together.

The Children Have Spoken

St. Cloud Unschooling Network recently reached out to the Great River Children’s Museum through their leader Mandy Spiczka with exciting news. They had heard about a non-profit group bringing a children’s museum to the area and voted to give their annual fundraising dollars to the Great River Children’s Museum! The group of homeschooling friends, which includes children from babies to teens as well as their parents, meets on a regular basis at the Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud, another community organization the group has elected to support in the past.

Every year the students and parents in the group use their talents to create arts and crafts which they sell to other group members, friends and family during their holiday market. They are able to help each other do their holiday shopping while learning a wide array of academic and life skills. When board members Glen Palm and Sara McKeever arrived for the presentation of the donation, the sale was wrapping up and the children were happily playing.

The parents expressed their excitement about the museum project. They wanted to support an organization that shares their values of creating space in children’s lives for learning through play and the importance of adults creating, exploring and discovering the world alongside children. We were humbled and honored by their gift of $355.25! The funds will be used to prepare space in the new building where community members can come to plan and dream about the museum we will create together.

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.