MN Children's Museum is serious about play, breaks ground on $30M expansion


The Minnesota Children's Museum wants people to play more. People of all ages. The $30 million expansion of its facility in downtown St. Paul is designed for just that.

The museum held a "ground shaking" Wednesday morning to kick off construction of the addition, which it says will add 35 percent more exhibit space and add two additional permanent galleries, for a total of eight.

The event coincided with Minnesota's "Day of Play," proclaimed by Gov. Mark Dayton, to launch a new campaign called PlayMoreMN that encourages kids and adults to take more time for unstructured play.

The Play More Minnesota campaign is meant to counter the trend toward overscheduling of kids' time with too many activities, which means they don't play as much as kids did years ago, MPR News reports.

The museum invited people to do something fun and send a photo using the #PlayMoreMN hashtag on Twitter. Here are a few pictures:

The museum's expansion and renovation follow along those same lines. The new space will focus more on open-ended, imaginative activities that children will lead themselves, according to museum officials.

Among the new features in the works: a multi-story climbing structure, an expanded gallery for toddlers and a larger water-and-air play space.

The museum will also add new amenities like a cafe and coffee bar, another elevator, an entrance on the skyway level and more rest rooms.

The museum says it has raised $28.5 million of the total cost, with some funding coming from the the state of Minnesota and the city of St. Paul, as well as 3M, Best Buy, Target, and other private donors.

Construction of the expansion is expected to continue until in early 2017. The museum will be open to visitors during most of that time; it'll be closed for a few months in late 2016 until the project is complete.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum has been in its downtown St. Paul location since 1995. It has about 450,000 visitors per year.

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