Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

Building a Sense of Place

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota has had a long relationship with the Mankato Area Foundation. As The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota prepares to open in its permanent home in 2015, Executive Director Peter Olson gratefully noted, “Mankato Area Foundation has been a key partner in strategically placing their support just when we needed it the most to be able to take that next big step forward.”

Beginning nearly a decade ago with a grant to look at the possibility of having a children’s museum, Mankato Area Foundation has supported the vision of providing offerings for families with young children in Mankato that were affordable, educational and available to enjoy year round. For that reason, the Foundation funded the feasibility study that helped an enthusiastic group of volunteers determine if the dream of a children’s museum in this community was a viable initiative.

When the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota began their capital campaign, Every Penny Counts, they needed a video to share with potential donors. Mankato Area Foundation funded the 4-minute video and the dollars spent were multiplied many times over in the capital campaign.

In June of 2013, the Mankato Area Foundation made a $500,000 gift to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota through the Dotson Family Fund of the Mankato Area Foundation. Denny and Carole Dotson are also loaning a 1917 Little Giant Tractor that will be the centerpiece of the Grow It Gallery. In addition, The Dotson Back 40 will provide outdoor space for imaginative, unstructured play for children, with tree stumps, knolls to climb and openness to spark imaginations.

When reflecting on the Dotson’s generosity and the ability of Mankato Area Foundation to facilitate gifts that greatly benefit our community, Olson said, “In many ways, when you come to this museum it will be a reflection of our shared culture, our heritage, our way of life, our art, our industry. We will be celebrating and honoring who has made this way of life possible, that we all enjoy here in Mankato. So, we are thrilled to have Denny and Carole Dotson and the Dotson family, with their long heritage of industry and philanthropy, partner with the Mankato Area Foundation to create a permanent investment in this community.