Milestones en route to the museum

The Great River Children’s Museum project began in 2012 during a conversation at the dining room table of Glen Palm and Jane Ellison.

Here are the milestones along the way.





  • Hosted Roundtable discussions with early childhood educators, special education teachers, and downtown businesses
  • Launched PEL Labs to learn and observe how parents and children interacted with each other and the activities around them.
  • Launched Family Fun Club to share activities that parents and kids can have fun with at home or outside.
  • Hired Executive Director
  • Secured a traveling exhibit for 3 months (Storyland)
  • Selected Exhibit Design Firm


  • Branding process completed with Gearbox Functional Creative
  • Museum planning with Vergeront Museum Planning
  • Completed grant process for Legacy funding for Minnesota children’s museums
  • Finished minor construction projects on two spaces for groups of visitors
  • Received grants for Play, Explore, Learn (PEL) Labs and Roundtable Discussions
  • Awarded a Legacy funding from Minnesota Humanities Center and the Arts and Cultural Heritage fund


  • Met with Minnesota Children’s Museum staff and toured its $30 million expansion
  • Attended webinar with SCSU faculty and staff about collaboration between children’s museums & universities
  • Explored building sites for possible museum location
  • Recruited 14 member Board of Directors
  • Ran successful matching campaign for a $25,000 grant
  • Formed committees and refined mission statement
  • Changed name to Great River Children’s Museum
  • Finalized building donation by Liberty Bank in downtown St. Cloud


  • Created a museum planning team


  • Collaborated with CentraCare Health System to bring the Healthyville exhibit to the Stearns History Museum


  • Joined the Association of Children’s Museums as an emerging museum
  • Studied children’s museums in similar-size Midwest communities
  • Completed a needs assessment


  • Established Great River Children’s Exploratorium as a 501c3
  • Met with community leaders and groups to determine need, interest and support