Children's Museum at Yunker Farm in north Fargo closes permanently, a casualty of pandemic
North Fargo attraction opened in November 1989
FARGO — Yvette Nasset was standing outside the main building of the Children's Museum at Yunker Farm on Tuesday, Aug. 17, recalling the history of the organization that had provided hands-on educational experiences for young children since it opened in November of 1989.
"Bringing families together, that's what it was all about," said Nasset, who recently retired as executive director of the museum. The museum permanently closed, a victim, she said, of the pandemic.
She said the museum was preparing for its popular annual Easter egg hunt in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit, essentially closing the event down.
Undeterred, Nasset said, they worked hard to prepare the museum for its annual Not-Too-Scary Haunted House later in 2020, but that fizzled, too, when a second surge of COVID-19 struck in October.
"We ended up doing little porch activities, you know, grab bags where the kids could take art projects home," Nasset said. After the pandemic struck, she added, they were never able to open the building to children again.
"That's the whole purpose of the museum; it's hands-on learning," she said.
In addition to the setbacks caused by the pandemic, Nasset said she has struggled with personal health issues that also took a toll on the operation and her ability to help keep it going.
Now, the Fargo Park District, which owns the property and leased it to the museum, is exploring a number of possibilities for how the grounds and buildings might be used in the future.
Those possibilities may include a children's science museum, but that idea and others are still in the formative stages, according to Park District Executive Director Dave Leker.
Nasset, for one, is thrilled at the prospect of a children's science museum, stating the site's farmhouse, built in 1876, has always been a place for children.
She said the Whitman family that built the house raised eight children there, and later, the Yunker family raised 10 children in the same home.
A number of organizations already have a presence at the site, including the Homeward Animal Shelter and the Northern Plains Botanic Garden.
Nasset, who has been associated with the museum for 23 years, said neighbors like the botanic garden were welcome additions to the site, as the museum and the garden partnered together for a number of programs.
"They used to always plant carrots with the Easter Bunny during the Easter Egg Extravaganza. Whenever we had big special events, they would come out," Nasset said.
In addition to ongoing programs and events, the museum's grounds have also been the setting for one-time special events, Nasset said, including a 2008 visit from President Barack Obama during the campaign for his first term.
As she stood on the front porch of the museum and talked about its history, Nasset was occasionally interrupted by people who walked up with questions about either the museum or one of the neighboring organizations.
She was happy to answer their questions, but every time she had to tell someone the museum was permanently closed, the reality of it seemed to strike her anew.
But the reasons behind the change became clearer, too, and it seemed to help Nasset to put them into words.
"If I want to be with my family for longer, I have to keep the stress level down," she said.