Countless memories have been made at the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm since it opened in north Fargo in 1989, North Dakota’s centennial year.
The museum occupied what had been a family farm for years and included what’s said to be the state’s oldest standing brick farmhouse.
Yunker Farm has always been a quirky place, more of a giant playhouse than a conventional children’s museum, a place where a child’s imagination was invited to wander freely.
Kids could play mini golf, go for a ride on a miniature train or carousel, engage with 50 hands-on learning exhibits, put on a puppet show, dress up like a construction worker, milk a fake cow or experiment with an assortment of musical instruments.
The attraction was especially appealing and absorbing to young children, those between the ages of 3 and 7 or so.
Sadly, after more than 30 years, the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm has closed. Backers say a million visitors had wandered its grounds and rooms.
But the pandemic took a heavy toll. The popular Easter egg hunt had to be cancelled in the spring of 2020 when the coronavirus was just taking hold. An effort to host the Not-Too-Scary-Haunted house in the fall of 2020 fizzled, and Yunker Farm was unable to regain its financial footing.
Yvette Nassett, who recently retired as the museum’s long-time executive director, deserves credit for helping to keep Yunker Farm going during a long and successful run. Toward the end of her tenure, health problems made it difficult for her to sustain the effort.
Nassett and others dedicated to Yunker Farm enabled years of stimulating entertainment for young minds, with hands-on learning at the center of the experience.
Now that Yunker Farm has closed, it will be up to the Fargo Park District to find a new life for this unique property, which it owns and had leased to the museum.
This provides city parks leaders with an opportunity to reimagine Yunker Farm and to make it fresh and inviting for children and families. There’s early talk of the possibility of establishing a children’s science museum.
We think that’s an intriguing possibility, but we encourage park officials to invite public input on what should be done with this special place. Fargo shouldn’t allow this playground of the imagination to fade away.