MUSEUMS AND INTERPRETIVE CENTERS
Learn, Explore, Discover
The wide variety of museums and exhibits, from hands-on science experiments and contemporary artwork to historic flourmills and cultural artifacts, ensures there is always something to see and do in the Twin Cities. With nearly 60 museums and galleries to choose from, visitors and residents alike have plenty of opportunities to learn something new.
Come face-to-face with the skeletal remains of a Tricera-tops and conduct experiments at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This museum located in downtown St. Paul is the most popular museum in the Upper Midwest, likely due to the variety of exhibits offered for all ages. Continuously attracting curious minds, the museum offers kids and adults alike lessons in paleontology, physical science, technology, the human body and peoples and cultures of the Mississippi River, among many other topics.
Its neighbor, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, was dubbed the nation’s best children’s museum by Parents, Cookie and ParentsConnect magazines. It’s a hands-on paradise for toddlers to tweens, hosting both permanent and traveling exhibits that are as educational as they are entertaining. After major, multi-million-dollar renovations, the museum reopened in June 2017 with more amenities and room to play, including a four-story climbing structure, two outdoor spaces, coffee bar and more.
After settling in, you might want to freshen up on Minne-sota state history. The Minnesota History Center is the best place to learn all about the 32nd state through exhibits, concerts and programs. The Mill City Museum, which is built into the ruins of Washburn A. Mill, once the world’s largest flourmill, is another great place to explore the intertwined histories of the flour industry, Mississippi River and city of Minneapolis. For those who have true Swedish roots, the American Swedish Institute showcases Scandinavian art and hosts visiting exhibits, while its in-museum restaurant, FIKA, serves up modern spins on Nordic cuisine.
The diversity of museums makes the Twin Cities a great place to enjoy art. In fact, the area is home to North America’s only nonprofit museum dedicated solely to the preservation and presentation of Russian art and artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum of Russian Art sits in a renovated Spanish Colonial Revival Church in southwest Minneapolis.
The classic architecture of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s grand entrance transitions to an extensive range of artwork inside the museum’s walls, which tourists and locals alike can visit for free all year. This encyclopedic museum has served as the state’s largest art educator for more than 100 years, with a collection that spans 83,000 pieces, 20,000 years and several continents, allowing you to see everything from ancient Chinese ceramics and Roman statues to Egyptian artifacts and 19th century paintings.
It’s no wonder why the Walker Art Center in downtown Minneapolis has been named “possibly the best contemporary art museum in the United States” by Newsweek. One of the most-visited of its kind, the Walker combines a vast art gallery with one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The garden underwent extensive renovations and reopened in June 2017 with all new art installations, apart from the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture. In addition to the Walker’s extensive collection and changing exhibits, the museum also regularly hosts performances, screenings, lectures and other events.
Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Weisman Art Museum is just one example of how our museums are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. This glimmering stainless steel structure serves as a teaching museum for the University of Minnesota and houses a collection of early 20th century American and contemporary art.