Ten years ago, on Sept. 12, 2010, the Children’s Museum of South Dakota officially opened its doors as thousands of people gathered on the front lawn to show their support.
The museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary the week of Saturday, Sept. 12-Saturday, Sept. 19, with outdoor prairie play and an array of activities from a self-guided scavenger hunt and chalk walk, to meet and greets with the museum mascot Kidoodle.
“We are thrilled to acknowledge this milestone and are excited to celebrate the power of play,” Executive Director Kate Treiber said. “As a community resource, an educational laboratory, and a destination for traveling families, we have had the distinct privilege of offering children the opportunity to explore and play at their own pace in a space designed specifically for them.”
When the Children’s Museum of South Dakota opened, South Dakota was one of two states that did not have a children’s museum. Since then, more than 1 million people, visitors from all 50 states and more than 20 countries, have sparked their imagination through the museum’s engaging exhibits and outdoor play space.
While many exhibits have been reimagined along the way, the museum’s original design still reflects South Dakota’s prairie environment, making it unlike any other children’s museum. From Mama T. Rex, the nation’s only full-size, permanent animatronic T. Rex located on the outdoor prairie, to the Hurley windmill next to the two-story Cloud Climber on the indoor prairie, the museum offers a space that inspires inquiry and wonder.
The museum is an integral part of the community and partners regularly with area organizations such as the Brookings School District, South Dakota State University, Harvest Table, Visit Brookings, and the South Dakota Humanities Council to name a few.
With a mission to spark imagination for all children and grownups, the museum has dedicated resources to fully develop its Access Program that offers $1 admissions and $15 annual memberships to those who find admission cost to be a burden. Since 2016, the program has admitted 6,865 guests and processed 273 memberships.
Another way the museum gives back to the community is through the Free Day of Play each September. With the inside of the museum still closed due to COVID-19, that event will not take place this year.
“Even though we had to adjust our plans, we are thrilled to still lift up the power of play in our community. We are so thankful to everyone who has supported us through taking part in our virtual activities, playing on our outdoor prairie, ordering to-go orders through Café Coteau, and shopping in our gift shop,” Director of Marketing Kerrie Vilhauer said. “So many of our guests and members feel like family. It’s fun to think about how many children have grown up alongside us during these past 10 years.”
The public is asked to reminisce and share its stories of growing up at the museum. Those who submit a story via prairieplay.org will be entered to win an anniversary prize package of: one-year museum membership, $100 Play Central Toys & Books gift certificate, and a $75 Café Coteau gift certificate.
In addition to the activities below, the museum invites guests to stay tuned to their social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for a walk down memory lane as different historical photographs will be featured.
10th anniversary activities
Saturday, Sept. 12-Saturday, Sept. 19: Take part in a self-guided 10th Anniversary Scavenger Hunt and Chalk Walk on-site at 521 Fourth St., Brookings, all week long. Activities are free, located on the museum lawn, and available sunrise to sunset. The museum will be lit in museum purple, pink, and green (and blue) during the evening hours.
Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 9:45 a.m.: Mayor Keith Corbett will read a proclamation celebrating the Children’s Museum of South Dakota’s 10th anniversary. The celebration will take place outside near the front door and the start of the Scavenger Hunt and Chalk Walk activities.
Anniversary week play sessions: Museum Mascot Kidoodle will make appearances during each Outdoor Prairie Play session during our anniversary week. Choose from one of three sessions of playtime each day from Tuesday, Sept. 15, to Saturday, Sept. 19. Schedule playtime at prairieplay.org. Walk-ins are admitted as space allows. (Please note: The indoor space is closed at this time.)
Cookies in Café Coteau: If you are playing on the prairie, enjoy a free cookie with each café purchase all week long, Sept. 15-19. The Café will feature its famous mac-n-cheese during Coteau’s Table To Go on Thursday, Sept. 17. As a bonus, each to-go meal will be served with a celebratory cookie. Order a meal by contacting Pouran at 692-6700, ext. 223, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Play Central Toys & Books: It’s an anniversary sale. Take 20% off of purchases of $100 or more Tuesday, Sept. 15-Saturday, Sept. 19. (Restrictions apply.)
Share memories: The museum is inviting the public to share stories and photos of time spent playing on the prairie at https://prairieplay.org/seize-the-play/celebrate-10-years-of-play/. The stories will be used in social media celebration posts and to produce a 10-year commemorative book. For each story submitted, writers will be entered to win the 10th anniversary giveaway package including: one-year museum membership, $100 Play Central Toys & Books gift certificate, and a $75 Café Coteau gift certificate.
By: Children’s Museum of South Dakota