Nutrien Wonderhub Children’s Museum Just Months Away From Opening a New World

Mayor Charlie Clark and Nutrien Wonderhub executive director Amanda McReynolds Doran show off the new logos for the children’s museum. (Photo by Cam Hutchinson)

The Nutrien Children’s Discovery Museum on the Saskatchewan is no longer a mouthful of words.

The museum, slated to late this spring, will now be known as Nutrien Wonderhub.

“It was time for us to change the way we communicate with the community about who we are,” said Amanda McReynolds Doran, executive director of Nutrien Wonderhub. “We needed to establish for folks, yes, we are Saskatchewan’s first and only children’s museum, but we are so much more than a museum.

“It’s not very easy for a four-year-old to say, ‘Mom, I want to go to the Nutrien Children’s Discovery Museum on the Saskatchewan.’ But what is easy for kids to remember is something that’s creative and short and descriptive — Wonderhub,” McReynolds Doran said at a media conference which included a number of Saskatoon dignitaries.

“It’s also great because it takes the word museum out of the title. Kids tend to think of a museum as something different than what we are. We are loud, we are active, we are hands on.”

McReynolds Doran said at the start of the rebranding process she didn’t know a new name was in the plan.

“We didn’t know that was a direction we were going to take, but as we thought about our core values, who we are and what we want the community to know about us, what we discovered is that it was time to consider the possibility of a new name.”

And Wonderhub it is. 

The name in front of Wonderhub acknowledges Nutrien for its support. The potash company donated $2.5 million to the project.

“When we aspire to grow our world from the ground up, it starts with kids and families here in our community,” Fern Boutin of Nutrien said. “It starts with engaging young minds and nurturing their interest in discovery.”

McReynolds Doran said she is often asked to describe a children’s museum. 

“We’re hands on; we’re ‘please touch;’ we are exciting, adventurous, we are creative and we wanted to find something that really communicated that to folks quickly… We are a place where you can reconnect with that child-like sense of wonder that made our childhoods so magical. It’s a place where you get to see your children’s sense of wonder come to life and really guide you through an experience.”

While discovery has been removed from the name, discovery is a key part of Wonderhub.

Amanda McReynolds Doran, executive director of Wonderhub, and Nutrien representatives (from left to right) Renee Glushyk, Tyler Dunn and Fern Boutin celebrate the rebranding of children’s museum. (Photo by Cam Hutchinson)

“We are introducing children to new parts of themselves, to new parts of the community to new potential careers to new avenues of discovery. So, it was important to us to connect. What are we really after here? We are creating a place where children can discover something new every time they visit.”

As a mother of three, McReynolds Doran said the project has made her a popular parent. 

“My kids are in love with this project… My street cred has gone through the roof with this project. I have a five-year-old who will be basically growing up in this museum. It’s going to be a thrill for me to see my own kids’ takeaway, but I also know Wonderhub is going to be where we see the future leaders of Saskatchewan really coming up, so I feel quite privileged to be part of it.”

Construction is about 80 per cent complete and one of the structures is being assembled. The museum is going from its current 1,200 square feet in Market Mall to 25,000 square feet in the Mendel building. Wonderhub is projected to have more than 100,000 visits a year. 

“It has been a long process for a lot of folks, but it is all coming to fruition now. This has been a time of major growth and transition for us. (It took) almost two decades to bring us to where we are today and where we are going to be very soon — in our new home in the Mendel.”

She said what is called an air pocket climbing structure is being assembled. It has swings, a maze and a place to bounce around. Wonderhub’s website lists a number of other exhibits.

“No matter how well we know what we have designed, when it gets played with by kids, it will take a whole new direction. It will teach us a new way to play with things, a new way to enjoy new educational outcomes that we never knew were possible.”

Wonderhub is being designed for children 12 and under. McReynolds Doran says it can extend far beyond that.

“While the exhibits did have a target developmental age, we have some technology in there that even adults would be thrilled to interact with.”

McReynolds Doran said a price structure for admission hasn’t been set. There will be general admission, and family and individual memberships available. There will be free days as well.

“We are the only children’s museum in the province, so we are committed to making sure there are no barriers to accessing the knowledge and experience we offer,” she said.

“It really doesn’t become Nutrien Wonderhub until there are kids in the building. We are chomping at the bit.”

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