– The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato will have to throw out most of its inventory after the stored items were inundated with stormwater, museum officials said.

Heavy rains last week flooded the lower level of a Mankato warehouse storing exhibits, equipment and furniture belonging to the museum.

“At first we couldn’t even go into the space because there was too much debris and sludge and water, and you could tell it was a complete loss right from the beginning,” museum director Peter Olson told KTOE-AM on Thursday.

“It toppled over big, heavy counters that moved 30 feet. The torrent of stormwater that moved through the [storage] space must have been pretty intense,” Olson said.

Because children touch and play with the interactive displays, there is no way to safely clean items and almost everything must be thrown out, he said.

One item that survived was a quilt that was inside a plastic bin, Olson said.

“We’re calling it the miracle. One of the first exhibits that the founding board made is our “Little Hands Farm Quilt,” Olson said.

“It’s this beautiful quilt that represents the farm landscape, and the children get down on their hands and knees and play on the quilt, and plant soybeans and corn, and play with tractors and the barn and animals. It’s just been a really beloved piece of the museum ever since the beginning that has traveled all over southern Minnesota.”

Olson says museum officials thought it was gone.

“Lo and behold, at the bottom of this pile of debris, we opened up a bin, and there was the quilt, completely dry,” he said.

The museum does have insurance, but Olson said he learned it will not cover flood or water damage. All of the museum’s displays and office furniture were in storage because a new museum is being built in downtown Mankato.


Associated Press