Play, Explore, and Discover At the New Duluth Children’s Museum
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Duluth Children’s Museum, the fifth oldest children’s museum in the nation, was established in 1930 and has been a valuable resource for area children, their parents/care-givers, and educators ever since.
Over their 90-plus years, the Museum has been housed in a variety of spaces including the Salter School, the Duluth Depot, Clyde Iron, and, most recently, in popup spaces downtown, while they were waiting to move into their new location in Lincoln Park at 2125 W. Superior Street, site of the long-time Randy’s Cafe.
For now, they have remodeled and done their installations on the first floor of the building. Brightly colored walls and displays, interactive play areas, and engaging exhibits all provide children (ages 0-10) with a place to learn new things about themselves and the world around them.
Cameron Kruger, President of the Duluth Children’s Museum, said the Museum’s former location at Clyde Iron had 13,500 square feet. He explained, “The new building will be 12,000 square feet once we are able to open up the additional floors. One of the biggest differences in location related to size is that there was no way for us to safely provide space outside for programming. With our new courtyard and greenhouse, we have a lot of outdoor activity space now.”
“Our team, including our staff, members, and volunteers, have all worked hard to make the opening of the new space a reality. We are very excited to again offer this quality place for children to learn and play,” added Kruger.
“We love this area, owning our own building for the first time, and being on the DTA bus line for more people to get to us. We have a parking lot behind the building as well. We look forward to completing our phase and three projects and offering more space and exhibits for our visitors,” said Katie Frank, President of the Duluth Children’s Museum Board.
The Museum’s youngest visitors have a nature-themed Infant and Toddlers’ room designed just for them where they can practice gross and fine motor skills while climbing, sliding, “wobbly” walking, and having other interactions with the space. An adjacent “Nurture Room” gives a quiet environment for caregiver nursing, pumping, and child calming needs,
Jeff Brown, owner of BrownKnows (www.brownknowsdesign.com) is the designer and fabricator for the Infant and Toddlers’ Room at the new Museum building.
Brown noted, “I love collaborating with other artists and energetic people to bring their visions to life. This project for the Children’s Museum has been fun, and I am looking forward to seeing the kids having a great time in the space.”
Exciting New Spaces
The Manoomin space lets the children explore the St. Louis River Estuary from inside a canoe. They learn how wild rice is an important species to the ecology of waters within the Great Lakes region, providing food and habitat to endemic and migratory species.
Loose Parts is the area where kids learn STEM concepts by manipulating ramps and balls on the giant magnet wall, building on magnet and construction tables, and practicing concepts with daily programs.
The Learning Lab doubles as a science lab for children to learn how plants grow and as a kitchen space for them to prepare snacks with fresh produce from the Museum’s greenhouse and garden.
Aviation Exploration gets kids behind the throttle of a real Cirrus airplane to explore concepts of flight and aviation learning stations with airplane launchers
The Adventure Treehouse and indoor playground offer a safe environment for climbing and sliding. A reception area and a gift shop are also on the main floor.
The second phase of the project will include the construction of an elevator, a modern HVAC system for the second floor, a two-story climber with a surrounding staircase, additional exhibits, a classroom, and a dedicated birthday party space.
The basement level will include another classroom and collection storage. The Museum has a collection of more than 10,000 cultural and historic objects that have long served as teaching and research tools.
Phase three will include a rooftop garden, peaceful spaces to enjoy the outdoors, and a solar panel that will provide children with the opportunity to learn about sustainable energy.