Children’s museums provide a safe haven where kids and adults can learn through play and grow in relationship together. There are approximately 350 children’s museums around the world including the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul and smaller museums in several other MN communities (Duluth, Rochester, Mankato, Hutchinson and Grand Rapids). A children’s museum in St. Cloud would bring the museum experience to young children who would otherwise need to travel long distances to have this rich learning opportunity.
Children’s museums help children develop essential foundational skills.
The most active stage of brain development occurs during the first three years of life. Children’s museums provide playful learning environments that are unique, engaging, and developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers and young children. Early learning has long been a priority in the St. Cloud area. A children’s museum would be a next step in supporting that mission.
Children’s museums light a spark for discovery and lifelong learning.
At children’s museums, kids become excited about what they are learning while they are playing. They are being introduced to reading, math, art, science, and culture through a multidisciplinary approach. The experience can be a springboard that propels them beyond the walls of the museum to learn more through libraries, classrooms and other community resources.
Children’s museums are environments where families play and connect in meaningful ways.
With many demands competing for the attention of modern parents, children’s museums are an oasis separate from work and household distractions where caregivers and children can spend quality time playing, learning, and engaging in hands-on exploration.
A Children’s Museum would also provide a wide range of benefits to St. Cloud and the surrounding community.
Children’s museums strengthen community resources that educate and care for children.
Museum exhibits and programs would be valuable resources for childcare programs and schools in our community. Collaboration with local higher education institutions could bring impactful training in play-based, informal learning to area college students, teachers and childcare professionals.
Children’s museums can serve as town squares and build social capital.
Children are a unifying force in our communities. All of us were children once, most of us appreciate the innocence and wonder of a child, and the majority of community members would happily contribute to improving the lives of its youngest citizens. Children’s museums bring together a wide variety of people to share their talents and perspectives. Area businesses, professionals and students in the St. Cloud area are a valuable resource for helping to fund, design and staff exhibits at the museum.
Children’s museums are in a unique position to celebrate community diversity and bridge cultural divides.
Children’s museums are popular, neutral spaces for learning new information. They attract a diverse cross-section of people and provide shared experiences. We have an opportunity to create play spaces that celebrate the cultural backgrounds of immigrant and native groups that make up our unique local history. By ensuring that the museum experience is accessible to those of differing abilities, children’s museums foster understanding of a broad range of cultural differences.
Children’s museums contribute to local economies while reducing economic barriers.
Being local and travel destinations, children’s museums bring new visitors to a community. Based on data from the Association of Children’s Museums, it is projected that a central Minnesota museum would attract between 60-100,000 visitors a year. By offering discounted or free admission for low-income individuals, a children’s museum can become a great equalizer for disadvantaged families.