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So Many Moving Parts… aka: the challenges of building a children’s museum

Running the team of dedicated volunteers to build the Grand Forks Children’s Museum is analogous to orchestrating a symphony. It requires passion, dedication, and a harmonious blend of many moving parts. In a symphony, each section (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion) contributes unique sounds. Similarly, this project also involves diverse stakeholders: board members, volunteers, donors, beneficiaries, and staff. Each stakeholder plays a vital role in achieving our mission. Just as the orchestra conductor meticulously follows sheet music, our museum leadership creates their own “score”— strategic plans, fundraising targets, community engagement, event planning, and managing finances and metrics. Each of us harmonizes our efforts to achieve our desired outcome…building the Grand Forks Children’s Museum.


Just as a conductor envisions the final performance, our museum leadership has a

vision for this museum to be a positive change in the community. The Grand Forks Children's Museum will be a dynamic hub for innovative learning, a gathering place for families to forge lasting memories, and a catalyst for regional growth. The museum stands as a testament to the community's commitment to lifelong learning, creativity, and the collective spirit of our times, while paving the way for future generations to explore, dream, and discover. Ultimately, we see the potential to transform lives.


Needless to say, the team has been remarkably busy! Here are just a few of the activities that we have been working on:

  • the ACM conference,

  • meeting with potential donors for the naming rights,

  • continuing the analysis and applications for grants,

  • meeting with city council members,

  • working to plan our October’s Full STEAM Ahead event,

  • getting our two UND Graduate Program Interns settled in and beginning their work on the museum,

  • waiting anxiously for our new ED to finish school with only one month to go until she is our full-time leader,

  • experiencing the growing pains of adding many people into our organization so quickly,

  • getting the board of directors’ policies in place,

  • reviewing and analyzing the new land proposal and discussion,

  • gathering feedback on the potential new location,

  • anticipating getting the pricing on the schematic design

  • setting up for our participation at ArtWise!


…it is worth repeating, this team of volunteers stays remarkably busy.


Running this organization is more than a job; it’s a calling. The busy days, sleepless nights, and countless emails are all part of the symphony that will create a positive change in our community. Amid the chaos, we try to remember to celebrate victories—big and small. When new funds come in, when an individual or group creates a benefit event, when we see the joy on the children’s faces at our community events, when our community rallies together, or when we get enthusiastic feedback on the project…we savor these moments. These small successes fuel our commitment and remind us why we embarked on this journey.


The work is dynamic. Trends shift, technology evolves, fundraising ebbs and flows, construction prices are ever-changing, and the community’s needs change. While staying adaptable is essential, our vision and commitment to build this museum remains undaunted. Whether it’s embracing local events, leveraging social media, meeting with a potential donor, or adjusting programs, our flexibility to adapt helps to ensure our goal.

Each one of our volunteers wears many hats: event planners, motivators,

fundraisers, and empathetic listeners. We get to witness heartwarming success stories but also face setbacks. The emotional toll can be overwhelming. Yet, the passion for this cause keeps us motivated and moving forward.

The Grand Forks Children’s Museum relies heavily on donations, and fundraising can be intense. Balancing the budget, securing sponsorships, and keeping donations flowing are constant challenges. While these challenges may seem daunting, they also offer opportunities for creativity and innovation. Children’s museums play a vital role in fostering curiosity, learning, and imagination, making this effort worthwhile! More hands are always needed and appreciated. Join us as we work together to build this children’s museum for Grand Forks. I promise you won’t be bored.

By Sally Miskavige, Grand Forks Children's Museum Board Vice President

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