Knutson Donation Will Create One-of-a-Kind Immersive Water Experience in the Kirby Science Discovery Center

February 8, 2023

Sioux Falls, SD — Extensive changes are coming this summer to the Kirby Science Discovery Center thanks to the estate of Patricia Knutson. A portion of her $1.2 million gift will create an immersive water experience that will reimagine the current “Room to Grow” exhibit on the second floor.

The new, one-of-a-kind exhibit will include interactive, colorful and educational features to help children learn about the phases of water through fog pipes, fog mushrooms and rain clouds. Children also will explore how water moves through aqueducts, conveyors, faucets, river channels, squirt guns, whirlpools, fountains and more, all while having fun.

“We are so excited to completely overhaul this space and provide new experiences in our museum, especially for our youngest guests. Toddlers and up will have so much fun with these new features that they won’t even recognize how much they are learning, too. No kid or parent of young children is going to want to miss this new exhibit,” says Madelyn Grogan, Director of Education with Washington Pavilion Management, Inc.

In July 2022, the Washington Pavilion announced a more than $1.2 million gift from the estate of Patricia Knutson, who included the gift in her will. The donation was designated for the Kirby Science Discovery Center but otherwise had no restrictions or stipulations.

“Patricia Knutson’s gift will have such a positive impact on so many children in our community. We are immensely grateful for her generosity and can’t wait to see her investment in our facility put to good use,” says Kerri DeGraff, Chief Operating Officer with Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. “With this project and the new Sweetman Planetarium both opening this summer, it’s going to be the most exciting summer in the history of the Kirby Science Discovery Center.”

Construction will require a closure of the current exhibit in May to make physical improvements, install new flooring, paint and build the exhibit. The Washington Pavilion has engaged Boss Display to design the exhibit, and it’s scheduled to open in June.

The project is expected to cost approximately $400,000. The remaining $800,000 of Patricia Knutson’s gift will be targeted for significant and unique projects in the Kirby Science Discovery Center, still to be announced.

For more information and visuals, go to

About Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. (WPMI)
Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the largest arts organization in the state. The management company oversees and programs two historic City of Sioux Falls facilities: the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science and the Orpheum Theater Center. The company also provides professional management services, including administration; arts, science and educational programming; ticketing; event management; marketing; and more to other arts and nonprofit organizations. For information, please visit

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