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$28 million expansion, renovation plan will 'reinvent' the Children's Museum

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On Friday, patrons, parents and fans of the Minnesota Children's Museum will get a look at its future as museum officials preview the prototypes for an expanded version of the space in downtown St. Paul.

The Pioneer Press reports the renovation that will begin this fall will expand the museum's footprint from 65,000 square feet to 74,000 square feet. The 13 percent increase in space will include a more prominent facade facing West Seventh Street, a new skyway entrance, coffee shop, and four-story climbing structure.

The Star Tribune reports museum officials indicate they are 82 percent of the way to their $28 million fundraising goal; $14 million of that came from the state bonding bill and about $9 million more has been raised from donors and the city of St. Paul.

The Children's Museum is regarded as one of downtown St. Paul's top visitor destinations, drawing more than 433,000 visitors from July 2013 to July 2014.

The construction at the museum is scheduled to begin in the fall. The museum will remain open until the fall of 2016, when it will close for about three months. It is expected to reopen in January 2017.

"We're reimagining the museum to give families new ways to play," said museum spokesman Robert Ingrassia. "Every gallery in the building is going to change."

On Saturday, the museum will lift the curtain on two new interactive exhibits.

"Make" is a hands-on learning workshop, featuring real hammers, real nails, sewing machines, fabric and other materials ready to be assembled by youngsters.

The "Imagine" display features a large gallery room will feature "movable and semi-movable objects," from inflatable yoga balls to tall, swiveling silos affixed to the ground. Colored lights, swaying wall cloth and a small stage complete the play area.

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