Children's museum plans under way

2009-12-04T02:00:00Z Children's museum plans under wayBy SARA KINCAID Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune
December 04, 2009 2:00 am  • 

Planning continues on the idea of a children's museum in Mandan.

The founding board for the North Dakota Children's Museum met Thursday evening in Mandan. It was the board's second meeting. A children's museum has interactive exhibits for children.

"It's not sterile, where you can't touch anything," said Sara Hills, one of the co-founders of the museum.

Hills is spearheading the children's museum effort with Wendy Anderson-Berg. Hills is a kindergarten teacher in Mandan Public Schools and Anderson-Berg works for Bismarck Parks and Recreation.

So far, planning is in its infancy. The group had an informational meeting in mid-November. At the meeting Thursday, the group decided on its target demographic for the museum, which will be toddlers through elementary-age children with some events geared toward older children.

The museum could potentially be located in the Iverson Building, 200 W. Main St., with other businesses that are organizing with Bill Patrie of Common Development Enterprise Corp.

Patrie updated the children's museum board on interest in the joint venture in the Iverson building. Other potential tenants for the building include a Pride of Dakota cooperative, a bakery, restaurant and organic grocery store. The Pride of Dakota membership will decide whether it wants to proceed with a storefront retail store and wholesale warehouse at a meeting Saturday, when the Pride of Dakota Showcase is at the Bismarck Civic Center.

The asking price for the Iverson Building is $650,000, and there might be opportunity for the business partners to buy or lease the building, Patrie said. The children's museum board knows it would like that location, but does not know how it would afford to purchase the building at this time. If the Iverson building does not work out, the museum will find an alternate location, Hills said.

Applications for a business license and solicitation license are being filled out by the museum board so that it can start fundraising. It also is looking into how it wants to be a nonprofit organization, either by incorporating as its own 501(c)3 or under the umbrella of another nonprofit organization.

The idea for a children's museum came up in January as part of an education focus group for the Mandan Vision plan. Hills and Anderson-Berg were part of that group. Hills has experience starting a children's museum in Iowa City, Iowa, when she was in college.

Hills and Anderson-Berg invited people to the November meeting who would have potential interest in serving on the founding board for the museum. An executive board for the museum will be formed from the membership of the founding board.

A feasibility study for the children's museum will be conducted by Leadership Bismarck Mandan as one of the leadership program's projects. The leadership program is organized through the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.

The North Dakota Children's Museum founding board will meet the first Thursday of the month at the Mandan Public Library. The next meeting is Jan. 7. The Iverson Building and funding will be discussed. Anyone who is interested in helping start the museum can contact Hill at 214-0238 or Anderson-Berg at 751-1111.

(Reach reporter Sara Kincaid at 250-8251 or

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