By Mpls.St.Paul Magazine / Inspired by Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund's My North
The Twin Cities is an arts hotbed, with one of the premiere theater scenes in the country. The area is teeming with legendary theaters like the Guthrie, Penumbra and the Jungle—and a cast of world-class thespians to populate their stages. But chief among the talented Twin Cities lot are a pair of actors from a theater for kids: Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund, resident acting company members at the Children’s Theatre Company. How does a pair of the best talents in town end up performing full-time for families? Because in the thick world of the Twin Cities arts scene, an equal emphasis is put on experiences for kids. From theaters to science exploratoriums, here a handful of the Twin Cities’ most unique kid-centric destinations.
Children’s Theatre Company
Founded in 1961 as the Moppet Players, the Children’s Theatre Company was the first theater expressly dedicated to telling stories for kids in the country, and remains the flagship theater for young people and families in the world. Located on the campus of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, CTC stages anywhere from six to 10 productions per year and boasts student alumni ranging from Laura Osnes to Vincent Kartheiser.
Science Museum of Minnesota
Making science fun and interactive since 1907, the Science Museum of Minnesota (on the banks of the Mississippi in downtown St. Paul), is a massive 370,000 sq. ft. of unabashed exploration and play. With everything from an Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater, to fully immersive exhibits like The Human Body (replete with actual mummy) and Dinosaurs & Fossils (replete with actual dinosaur skeletons and fossils), you don’t have to be a kid to have fun and learn something at SMM.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
Started as a modest space dedicated to giving kids a place they could explore, learn, and play without a single “Do Not Touch” sign in 1981, by 1995 the Minnesota Children’s Museum had blossomed into a 65,000 sq. ft. St. Paul complex with yearly attendance in the hundreds of thousands. In 2017, the Minnesota Children’s Museum completed its $30 million, 9,000 sq. ft. expansion on top of that, fundamentally reshaping the usability of the uber-interactive exploratorium with 10 new permanent exhibits, two outdoor spaces, an expanded water/air play area, more bathrooms, and, coolest of all, a super-modern four-story climbing and sliding area called The Scramble.
Not many cities have their own full-time circus, let alone their own children’s circus, and yet St. Paul has both in Circus Juventas, permanent residents of the big top in Highland Park. Established in 1994 as an after school circus program, it didn’t take long for Circus Juventas to set full-time roots and attract hundreds of students to a curriculum ranging from trapeze artistry to trampolining. Today, the bustling circus school manifests itself in dazzling spring and summer shows open to the general public.
Stages Theatre Company
The Twin Cities theater scene boasts not one, but two, theaters dedicated to young people and families. Located just west of Minneapolis in the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Stages Theatre Company began in 1985, and like its sister shop across town—the Children’s Theatre—is one part educational institution and one part playhouse, hosting upwards of six productions a year, ranging from The Hobbit to Fancy Nancy: The Musical.