By Robb Murray
---- — MANKATO — The Southern Minnesota Children's Museum signed a 50-year lease for the city of Mankato's bus garage Tuesday, and announced it has secured another donation worth a half-million dollars.
The signing of the lease was expected; the museum has been working for months with the city to use the site for its new permanent home.
The big check, however, was the museum's "special announcement." This time the money comes via the Coughlan family, which made the donation in the name of two of its companies, Jordan Sands and Capstone.
The gift includes $300,000 in money and another $200,000 in the form of in-kind donations of Kasota stone that will be used in the museum's quarry exhibit and books for the two museum reading areas.
"They really are a special family and a special company," said Southern Minnesota Children's Museum Director Peter Olson.
This most recent donation brings to roughly $4 million. Olson says they need another $1.3 million to complete phase one of construction and allow the museum to open at its target time: the end of 2014.
Phase one, which includes the complete renovation of the garage, will have eight exhibits: the Mankato Clinic Tree of Forts Climber, Quarry Zone, Infant and Toddler Play Porch, Market Square, H2GO Water Play, Animal Area, Whiz Bang Studio and the Rotary Education Center.
Phase two completion will require an additional $2.1 million in fundraising.
Exhibits included in phase two include: the Grow it Gallery, Farmyard, Back Forty, Prairie's Edge, Seed to Table Cafe and the outdoor Parklet courtyard.