Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester is now Spark!

Uniting with the Community to Serve a Growing Rochester

The Museum is looking to the future – and we’re asking the entire community to help us expand our reach and impact.

With so many exciting initiatives underway in Rochester, this is a great time to establish the Museum’s long-term strategy, vision and role in our growing community.

We’re calling it a “strategic impact planning process,” which means we want to work with our members, visitors and other stakeholders to figure out the best way for us to provide playful learning experiences to even more families throughout Southern Minnesota.

21st Century Workforce Skills

Experiential learning is key to developing 21st century workforce skills and healthy behaviors. You can learn more about the seven “Powers of Play” here.

Looking ahead, there is tremendous potential to deepen the Museum’s impact to make our communities happier, healthier and more innovative. We know that play will “play” a valuable role in our region’s time of growth.

A Community Conversation

During the next nine months, we’ll do a lot of listening. We want to hear from members, visitors, partners, community organizations, and civic and business leaders. In the end, our aim is to map out how we can best build our capacity and enrich the Rochester area’s quality of life for years to come.

The conversation has already started over the last few months through interviews with more than 20 civic leaders, community partners and key funders.  Based on feedback, the potential growth and opportunity of the Museum is larger than originally anticipated.

With that in mind, the museum’s goal shifted to defining our long-term vision and maximizing our impact in the community, not searching for a specific space or location. As part of this process, the Museum has decided not to seek a lead tenant role at the former Armory building (the “Castle”) in downtown Rochester.

The Castle is a wonderful building and a historic Rochester asset. However, the Museum’s focus at this time is defining our long-term vision and maximizing our impact in the community, not searching for a specific space or location.

This planning process will help us identify community needs and shape our role in the Rochester area. It won’t be long before we’ll be in a better position to evaluate what type of space and which location would best serve our visitors and the entire community.

Since opening in 2012, Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester has grown into a vibrant home for playful learning in Southern Minnesota – serving more than 100,000 visitors and more than 1,000 member families.

Community Impact

Looking ahead, there is tremendous potential to deepen the Museum’s impact. Minnesota Children’s Museum vision is to make our communities happier, healthier and more innovative through the power of play. We know that play will “play” a valuable role in our region’s time of growth.

The museum remains committed to establishing a larger, more permanent home. Our visitors favor a larger museum. A visitor survey in March 2015 found that 88% feel the current museum is too small and that 85% would visit a bigger museum more often.

In the meantime, the fun and playful learning continues. Our museum at River Center Plaza remains open and we urge everyone to visit our current exhibits Animal Secrets and Air Play.

To stay informed about our progress and learn about opportunities to participate in our planning process, join our email list.

FAQs – Strategic Impact Planning Process

What’s Happening?

Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester is working with members, visitors, partners, community organizations and civic leaders to establish its long-term strategy, vision and impact in the community.

The Museum plays a valuable role in our region’s time of growth as the impact areas align with our community’s key initiatives and focus; Journey to Growth, Destination Medical Center and innovative opportunities to build capacity and quality of life for our community.

As part of the museum’s strategic impact planning process, the organization has decided not to seek a lead tenant role at the former Armory building in downtown Rochester.

This is to ensure MCMR takes the appropriate time and process to build and implement the vision that aligns with the region’s projected growth and impact needs of community and visitors.

Why did the museum choose not to move to the Castle (Armory) building?

After the last two months of initial feasibility interviews with over 20 civic leaders, community partners, and key funders, the potential growth and opportunity of the Museum is larger than originally anticipated.  With that in mind, the museum’s goal shifted to defining our long-term vision and maximizing our impact in the community, not searching for a specific space or location. This planning process will help us identify community needs and shape our role in the Rochester area. When this process is further along, the museum will be in a better position to evaluate what type of space and which location would best serve our visitors and the entire community.

Is the museum going to stay open during the planning process?

Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester plans to continue to provide playful learning opportunities for families throughout Southern Minnesota. Our museum at River Center Plaza remains open and we urge families to visit our current exhibits Animal Secrets and Air Play.

How long will the planning process take?

The museum intends to complete the strategic impact planning process by the end of 2016.

What will the planning process include? Who will be involved?
  • Expand the board and committee structure
  • Discovery Phase:
    • Gather data and analysis for informed decision making (market, community gap feasibility analysis)
    • Engage community (including youth), organizational and business partners for input and identify community needs assessment
  • Planning Phase:
    • From input in discovery phase, collectively identify vision and community impact
    • Develop strategic plan and sustaining business model
    • Gather Feedback from community and partners
Does the museum still want to find a bigger, more permanent space?

Yes. Since opening in 2012, Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester has grown into a vibrant home for playful learning in Southern Minnesota – serving more than 100,000 visitors and more than 1,000 member families.

Our visitors favor a larger Minnesota Children’s Museum of Rochester. A visitor survey in March 2015 found that 88% feel the current museum is too small and that 85% would visit a bigger Museum more often.

When the museum’s community planning process is further along, the museum will be in a better position to evaluate what type of space and which location would best serve our visitors and the entire community.

What other locations are you considering?

The museum’s goal is defining our long-term vision and maximizing our impact in the community, not searching for a specific space or location at this time.

What’s wrong with the Armory?

The Armory is a great building and community asset. However, the museum will need to identify what the vision is first and if that space could support that vision.

Is the Armory too expensive to convert into a children’s museum?

With our analysis, we don’t believe so. However, that may change once a vision is established. There may be additional components to include, once community needs are identified.

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