Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

Mankato, MN

After ten years of planning and design collaboration with ISG support, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) opened its doors with authentic and real exhibits designed and constructed by local artists and industry experts. ISG designers integrated these exhibits to maximize the large, open floor plan of this former city transit garage facility. Transforming the industrial space into a bright and lively learning environment required maximizing natural light by uncovering original windows, and strategic placement of new windows, colors and materials. This allowed the facility to maintain an industrial feel with concrete floors and metal structures, while also delivering a fun and inviting atmosphere.

ISG designers collaborated with exhibit planners to effectively phase construction to accommodate the heavy loads and exceptional size and weight of materials. Local industry exhibits include a quarry complete with giant slabs of limestone to create an arched entryway and walls so heavy they were installed before the museum flooring could be poured. The multistory Tree of Forts exhibit was placed through a hole cut in the roof and now extends beyond the roof line with lookouts to the surrounding neighborhood. Wood from different tree species make up each step leading to the top and include the name and the outline of each tree’s leaf shape. These large exhibits required extensive phasing and coordination for installation during construction. A second story mezzanine for the Cecil H. Jones, Imagineering Loft overlooks the exhibit spaces.

LEED certification for this adaptive reuse building, will be achieved through the use of concrete flooring, energy efficient features (HVAC systems, LED lighting, and occupancy sensors) and fulfilling safe indoor air quality (IAQ) standards with limited use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and adhesives. Carpool and fuel efficient vehicle parking provided additional credits in meeting sustainability goals.

While the facility was designed around two, very large permanent exhibits, the remaining space is open with the flexibility to accommodate traveling or new exhibits. Several exhibits-inspired by southern Minnesota’s agricultural economy-provide interactive play and discovery including an 1917 Little Giant steam tractor; Grow It Gallery an agricultural laboratory area; and a Farm to Market play area. Also displayed is an interactive field quilt, previously used during the Museum’s early days of traveling exhibits. ISG is proud to have supported the efforts to bring this valuable community amenity to reality.

Civic + Culture

  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church

  • Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society Riverside Regional Pet Shelter

  • Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

  • East Leach Park Skateboard Park

  • Elmore Public Library

  • Emy Frentz Arts Guild

  • Faribault Soccer Complex

  • Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP)

  • Private: Mankato Family YMCA

  • Monroe County Aquatic Center

  • Riverfront Park

  • Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church

  • St. Peter Community Center

  • Storm Lake Trail

  • The Paradise Center for the Arts

  • Trinity Lutheran Church

  • Veteran’s Memorial Place

  • Wells Depot Museum