About Us

We are families committed to bringing a cultural, academic and physical form of activity to the children of the Willmar Lakes area.

The Village story


In 2016, a group of parents and community members came together with a common passion to create an indoor place for their children to learn and play.  Armed with a vision of exceptional educational opportunities, they founded The Village Children’s Museum, a non-profit that celebrates cultural harmony and understanding through learning and play.  After several months of analyzing children’s museums in Minnesota, they were certain that this would benefit Willmar and the surrounding area in many ways.  

In the summer of 2017, they signed a lease for a 5,600 square foot building in a developing area of Willmar, and renovation began.  The Village is being renovated and operated through volunteers and personal donations. The Village Children’s Museum now consists of 3 board members as well as approximately 25 volunteers who have been working together to make the goal of opening in early 2018 a reality.   

Paula Smith, Executive Director
Jeron Smith, Secretary

As a family with young children, we saw the need in our community for an indoor place for children and adults that would encourage health, education and relationships. The very word “community” would indicate the idea that we do life together. That is what The Village is: A place where we do life together as parents, families, grandparents, children, youth, etc. And we pray that as we do life together we get to know each other’s passions, pursuits, hurts, and celebrations and that we can truly care for each other as a community should. So, we’re doing this because we believe that Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and we really do love this community.

Sarah & Jayme Van Beek, Treasurer and board members

As parents of small children, we definitely see the value of a children's museum in bolstering their natural curiosity and encouraging brain development. The reason that we have joined and supported the children's museum is much deeper than that, however. As we spend time in this community, we see a lot of diversity as well as a lot of division. It saddens our hearts, and we want to live differently as a family. What we most value is that through the Village Children's Museum opportunities will be created for both our children and ourselves to interact with and to love, as Jesus has loved us, many people from different backgrounds. A children's museum will be a wonderful place to build relationships through play with others and to love each other regardless of our differences.​

Listen to the passion in the voices of the founders as they describe their vision for the children of our community. Partly due to this video, the Willmar Area Community Foundation generously awarded The Village Children's Museum $1,000!


1312 Lakeland Drive SE

Willmar, MN 56201

(320) 262-3057