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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Is Rochester ready for a new museum?

Is Rochester ready for a new museum?

The Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester is pushing ahead with plans for a new family-focused Innovation Experience Center.

The museum's leadership presented the concept, now nearly a year in the works, to a group of city leaders and stakeholders at a meeting Monday afternoon. The museum is seeking community support for a multi-generational museum focused on three key areas: innovation, health and well-being, and cultural exchange.

"First and foremost, it will be a community-based museum," said Heidi Mestad, the museum's director. "If we make it cool enough for the community to get excited about, visitors will want to come too."

The MCM Rochester currently provides exhibitions and programming for young children out of a small retail space on North Broadway. (Its latest attraction, a STEM-focused exhibit titled "Ball-o-rama," opened to the public today.)

Mestad said the size of the location limits what they can offer, and that their research shows the community wants the museum to "age up" and create experiences for the entire family.

"What we discovered is that adults want to spend time as a family unit together," said Mestad, adding that the new museum would focus on "playful, experiential learning" for all ages.

Mestad and her team have spent the past couple months refining the concept with Jack Rouse Associates, an Ohio-based consulting firm whose portfolio includes work with the Children's Museum of Atlanta and the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.

The next step is finding a location for the space. The museum has already expressed interest in several spots, from the Chateau Theatre to DMC's Discovery Square campus. While the museum is primarily looking at space downtown, Mestad said there are also other locations where the museum could be successful.

The museum hopes to narrow down the number of potential sites to two by November, before selecting a final location by early 2018.

Cover graphic: Rendering of proposed museum

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