Minnesota Children’s Museum will open what’s being called a “pop-up play space” at Mall of America, the two entities announced this morning. The temporary museum at the mall will open in late September, just before the Children’s Museum embarks on a major expansion and renovation of its flagship building in St. Paul.
The Children's Museum, which is adding new galleries, a café, and a new skyway level entrance in St. Paul, will remain open throughout most of construction, but the MOA pop-up will allow the museum to keep playing during a brief closure late next year, from September to December 2016.
The museum will occupy 4,400 square feet on the third floor, north side of the mall, near the soon-to-be completed expansion wing that includes a food hall, a second rotunda, a J.W. Marriott hotel, office tower, and space for more than 50 additional stores and restaurants. The new third floor food court, which the mall is calling “Culinary on North,” will be the first section of the addition to open, in mid-August. The upscale Marriott will follow in November, but it will likely spend the holiday season without neighbors on floors one and two of the new wing.
“Conversations (with retailers) are active,” said Jill Renslow, the mall’s senior vice president for business development and marketing, in a recent interview. She talked about interest from luxury brands, but then said they might come in a later phase.
“Being retail leaders, we’re looking for first-to-market concepts and unique partnerships,” Renslow added. Unable to name names before retailers have signed on the dotted line, she said negotiations are in process, but stores in the new wing are not expected to open before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the mall also has vacancies to fill in its existing corridors, most noticeably in the southeast court, where spaces on both sides of LL Bean remain available as well as a chunk of the second floor above it.
Mall of America's new wing, under construction to the north of the existing center.
Men’s stores, unique beauty concepts and home accessories are high on the mall’s priority list, Renslow said, as are entertainment destinations, and concepts with unique local flair—such as the Children’s Museum.
The museum space at MOA will feature two exhibits at a time. The tentative schedule includes Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites, Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and ice, Adventures with Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Curious George: Let’s Get Curious. The admission price has not yet been set. Museum members will get in for free.
Children's Museum plans to be at the mall until January 2017. MOA operations are being funded in part by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.