The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul has been undergoing a major renovation in the last several months, and will be opening very soon – on June 7th, 2017 to be exact!
As a MCM Play Advocate, a few weeks ago I had the privilege of being able to go on a Hard Hat Tour to preview the museum in the middle of construction. Though it was a couple months away from being done, it had come a long way! The structures and major features were in place – and the details were being completed.
Here’s a glimpse of what I saw during my tour – with some pics of new areas including “Sprouts,” “Forces at Play,” and the “Scramble!”
But my favorite part was the new “Our World.” That’s right – their “Our World” is the one exhibit name that is being carried over from the old museum. However, it’s more of a mini “Our World.” That’s because it’s not as big and elaborate as the original – but has been given a face lift to be fresher and more contemporary.
Inside the NEW “Our World” are a variety of features and opportunities for play:
Light Rail Car
Tour of “Our World”
As you enter, on the left is the Hardware Store where kids can:
- Put on an apron, strap on a toolbelt, stock shelves and help customers
- Fiddle with locks, light switches and door knockers to your heart’s content
- Design and display your own signs
To the right of that is the Post Office. Here, kids can:
- Work the mail counter, selling postage and checking out customers
- Put on a carrier’s uniform, shoulder a bag and deliver the mail
- Sort packages, send them down a chute and route them back up a conveyor
Check out these cute, very-Minnesota mailboxes!
In the middle is the park where you can take a seat and enjoy a “meal” from the food stand, and even search for signs of animal life.
On the street, you can pedal a bike and see rotating views of the city (not pictured).
I know my son’s favorite feature will be the Fire Station. Opportunities for play here include:
- Get suited up with a jacket, helmet and boots
- Climb into the cab of a fire truck made with real-life parts
- Cook dinner in the firehouse kitchen
- Staff the chief’s desk and dispatch rescue crews
Here’s a video preview of what it looks like:
Next to the Fire Station is the Food Stand. Here kids can feel like a real employee by taking orders at the counter, cooking meals in the kitchen and delivering food to customers in the park.
To the right of the Food Stand is the Farmers Market where kids can buy or sell seasonal produce and other food, or organize their wares with crates, stands and tables.
Outside the exhibit, which you can kind of see outside the window in this image (above), is the Light Rail Car. Here, kids can step into a train car as a passenger or the driver (similar to how the bus was in the old “Our World”).
What does the “Our World” exhibit teach a child?
Playing in this exhibit will nurture a child’s ability in these areas:
- Cooperate with others to identify and pursue a common goal
- Show compassion and sympathy
- Ask thoughtful questions and make connections
- Think in advance about possible outcomes
Adults are encouraged to support a child’s play in “Our World” in various ways:
- Encourage children to try out new roles
- Let a child’s story unfold naturally
- Add a plot twist: “What would happen if…?”
- Don’t rush. Embrace repetition.
Here are some cool facts about the new “Our World” exhibit!
- Our World is the only exhibit name to carry through from the pre-expansion museum
- The Saint Paul Fire Department donated a truck that supplied many of the parts for the fire engine
- The conveyor belt in the post office came from the factory in the retired World Works exhibit
- The MCM uprooted the trees from the old Earth World and replanted them in the Our World park
- Food in the farmers market change to reflect the seasons and to showcase the diverse foods available throughout Minnesota
Also, if you missed it, read about my experience this spring as a Play Enthusiast, meeting with the Minnesota Children’s Museum and other bloggers to explore play!