In 2020, The Children’s Museum of Rochester, now known as “Spark”, moved to a new location at Apache Mall in the south corridor of the JC Penny wing. The move was made possible with the help of Mayo Clinic Community Engagement.
The result is over 7,000 square-feet of interactive exhibits where children can explore, create and discover, with an emphasis on health and well-being.
“Unstructured play is a critical way children learn. The power of play is in the immersive experiences aimed at fostering cultural and intergenerational connections. A family experience” says Beth Sherden, director of Spark. “Spark is accessible to all children in our community. Now, more than ever, children need an outlet for anxiety and stress, to build self-esteem and grow emotionally. That place is Spark.”
A mother of a visitor agrees: “As a parent, I love watching the joy and engagement of my children with the learning activities at Spark, especially after all the months at home. We value the opportunities for socialization and connection.”
Mayo sponsored a major exhibit, Helix, in the center of the space. Helix is a three dimensional vertical maze, rising 16 feet. Climbers test their agility, speed and power as they twist and turn to the top.
“My favorite part of Spark is Helix” says a 10 year old boy. “I like to be able to figure out different ways to climb through it and be able to get to the top and see out over the whole museum!”
Special emphasis is placed on safety. At all times Masks are required. Capacity is limited. There is continuous cleaning with an hour between sessions for deep cleaning. There are multiple hand-sanitizing stations.
“This would not be possible without the generous support of our community partners, like Mayo Clinic” says Sherden. “The children are so grateful.”
To learn more about Spark, including hours and to make reservations, go to: https://www.sparkrochestermn.org/