MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — Brick by brick, stone by stone, work continues on the new Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.

But as quickly as the museum building takes shape, severe flooding left a home with few belongings.

“Just a week before we had moved our entire inventory into storage,” said Peter Olson, the museum’s executive director.

To help save on costs, the collection of displays was put into a nearby storage basement unit where space was donated.
Days later, a flood of storm water from torrential June rains filled the room six-feet deep with muddy water, destroying everything inside.

Furnishings, display cases and one of a kind exhibit items were too badly soiled or damaged to be cleaned and salvaged.

Sadly, many of the children’s displays were hand-built by local artists and engineers.

“They were beautiful,” Olson said. “We had an eight-foot-wide gear table with custom cut gears that children can interact with — that’s gone!”

On Friday afternoon the museum’s board of directors met in emergency session to begin processing the huge loss and preparing a recovery plan. Unfortunately, the items were not covered by flood insurance.

So as the dreams and drawings get closer to reality, the rush is on to find replacement displays that kids will find equally fascinating.

Already, a lengthy capitol campaign has raised $4 million towards the museum’s $5 million price tag.

“I’m confident the community will step up,” Olson said. “We’ll accept the help and work together to open this real soon.”

It is expected the museum will open its doors to children and their families in early 2015.

To help defray the costs of purchasing replacement display items, donations are being collected on the museum’s website.
To donate, visit or call the museum at 507-386-0279.

Bill Hudson

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