- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota has finally opened after a decade of planning and fundraising.

The doors first opened Friday after construction began last year on the permanent $5-million dollar home in Mankato.

“We wanted someplace where a parent could come in, and if they have more than one child, they’re able to pretty much see everywhere,” said Linda Frost, an early childhood parent who co-founded the museum with Mary Jo Hensel. “

Frost said the museum is still trying to raise another $400,000 to finish a water exhibit.

Last summer, just as construction was getting underway, widespread flooding destroyed almost all of the museum exhibits in storage and insurance didn’t cover the damage. So they had to replace all of the hands-on exhibits.

The one surviving item was a hand-made quilt that features southern Minnesota landscape. It had been found in a sealed plastic container and is now hanging on the wall of the new museum.

Some of the museum features are a tree fort, grow it gallery, engineering explorers lab, farm yard, and a cafe.

Executive Director Peter Olson says the approximately 350 childrens’ museums in the United States are very popular.

The grand opening with free admission was Friday and Saturday.

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