Children’s Museum opens up to Elk River

by Briana Sutherland

Contributing writer

The Handke Center in Elk River is now home to Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, a traveling exhibit created by the Minnesota Children’s Museum and funded by the state of Minnesota, Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, and Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

This exhibit travels to five communities in Minnesota over two years to provide imaginative, book-based experiences for children ages birth through 8 years old.

Minnesota State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer read “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats at the grand opening of Storyland.

Storyland focuses on three award-winning children’s books, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter, “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats and “Where’s Spot?” by Eric Hill. Each book is brought to life inside the exhibit through three-dimensional and interactive stations relating to the three books.

Dianne Krizan, Minnesota Children’s Museum president, said the first exhibit in Worthington this past summer was very well received.

“There were many return visitors, whenever Grandma was in town children were asking to go back,” said Krizan.

Isaac and Landon Bizal enjoyed The Tale of Peter Rabbit station.

Krizan said the exhibit is a way to give kids a fun, interactive learning experience and help form the six pre-emergent literacy skills: love books, learn words, tell stories, hear sounds, know letters and read everything. The exhibit also gives inspiration to parents to help foster and develop the love of reading.

“Elk River has a deep commitment with learning and literacy,” said Krizan. “This exhibit is meant to help people understand the importance of how kids learn through unstructured activities.”

Storyland’s grand opening was Oct. 8, with Minnesota State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer reading “The Snowy Day” to a group of children and parents. Being the oldest child out of 14, she told the group how valuable reading was to her as a child.

Evan and Delaney Huntly enjoy making an e-postcard, available for all visitors to see.

“One of the greatest treats I had was when my dad, who was a janitor, brought home a box of books from the library. Reading to me was so precious and so valuable,” said Kiffmeyer.

If you go:

Storyland is free to the public, open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.; Tuesday and Friday 1–5 p.m.; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 5–8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. This exhibit is offered in English and Spanish. A large-scale version of Storyland featuring seven books is currently being offered at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.