Monkey business underway at GRCM

David Mohs
David Mohs

By: David Mohs
GRCM Facilities Committee co-chair
Exhibits Committee member

On a daily basis for over two years, I have and continue to provide behind-the-scenes volunteer support to the emerging Great River Children’s Museum. My information technology background within a secondary education environment was a natural fit for the museum’s interim networking, computing, audio-visual, and security needs.

Though the pandemic has hampered in-person activities, persistent planning for the museum’s launch continues. Given that Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe,” imagine how many hours of preparation are required to convert a 25,000-square-foot, 100-room banking facility into a bustling children’s museum. Upon opening its doors, Great River Children’s Museum will open worlds of exploration, discovery and creativity in Downtown Saint Cloud.

In the meantime, while we at Great River Children’s Museum figuratively sharpen our axe, Minnesota Children’s Museum in Saint Paul has collaborated with us to bring a second small traveling exhibit to the future home of Great River Children’s Museum.

On a recent winter morning, Curious George™ swung out of a freight truck and into the museum’s preview space. Tugged behind him was a bit of countryside. He proceeded to set up an apartment within and is actively constructing a small city. Perhaps, if we have enough bananas, Curious George and his crew will restore our building to its original 16-foot ceiling height! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for pictures.

Like our first traveling exhibit, Storyland, this exhibit will be available for a limited time to limited audiences given pandemic conditions. We were able to welcome 40 small groups through Storyland. Our hope is to invite more than 100 small groups for Curious George.

Our museum team will be scheduling reservations with educational partners and childcare providers first because of their already established “pandemic bubbles.” Then, we will invite individual families to reserve time with the exhibit.

Between guests, the space will be disinfected. Our volunteers will be working hard.

Further details will be announced on our website, via our Facebook page and through our e-newsletter. You can sign up to receive the e-newsletter here.

Rest assured, Curious George’s presence in Saint Cloud will not interfere with his television stardom on tpt and other PBS Kids affiliates.

Curious George
Curious George and related characters, created by Margret and H. A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by Houghton Mifflin Company and used under license. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLP. All rights reserved.

Family Fun Club

Register for a FREE LIVE Concert online
Saturday, June 20th at 10AM!
Paul Imholte will perform Old McDonald Had a Banjo
joined by drummers, lullabye singers and more!

When you become a member of the new Family Fun Club, you will receive a new activity in your inbox every Saturday all summer long!

Register now at https://greatrivercm.org/familyfunclub/ to guarantee your spot in the live Zoom concert. The concert will be recorded and made available to all!

This is the first of our weekly Family Fun Club activities created by our volunteer team. We will request feedback from participants to help us create quality programming and build a museum that will meet the needs of Central Minnesota families. Join us for fun surprises for the whole family all summer long!

Coronavirus Update

Message from the Board regarding COVID-19:
Great River Children’s Museum has decided to cancel all upcoming events – Roundtables and PEL Labs – for the month of March. We are also recommending that all committees meet by Zoom. We will reevaluate the situation at the end of March. Keep safe and be well!

If you would like information for how to talk with children about the virus, PBS Kids has a very nice resource at https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus

African Cultural Festival

The Great River Children’s Museum had the opportunity to share play activities and information at the African Cultural Festival at Lake George on Sunday, September 15th. It was a beautiful day for the first annual outdoor event. Our volunteers were able to connect with a wide range of community members who shared their ideas about what they would like to see in a children’s museum serving Central Minnesota. They were also fortunate to be able to enjoy wonderful entertainment including African drumming, dance, poetry and song. Thanks to all who stopped by our booth and to the St. Cloud African Cultural Organization for inviting us!

History Museum Music Event

In collaboration with the Stearns History Museum, Great River Children’s Museum volunteers will offer the second in a series of family music events. The first featured Jane Ellison and Glen Palm and friends along with the Lullaby Singers who shared lullabies from various cultural backgrounds. It was a beautiful night for an outdoor concert!

On August 20th from 6:00 – 7:00pm at the Stearns History Museum, you can join board member Buddy King and his friends for interactive drumming. It is sure to be fun whether rain or shine!

Milestone Volunteer Event

We held our first Volunteer Discovery Event on March 4th in the meeting room of the future museum. Volunteers were able to get an overview of the project from start to future. They toured our building to better appreciate all the space available for us. Everyone was able to connect and brainstorm about the possibilities for the museum. It was a successful event that will definitely be repeated. As we are planning community outreach events and the work that needs to be done on the building, we would like to utilize all the community volunteers we can. We know that many of you are wanting to be part of this exciting project. Be sure to sign up on our website to get notified of our next volunteer engagement event.