November 9, 2002
The Minnesota History Center is an innovative, colorful, interactive, fascinating place that opened in 1992 with the intent to make history fun, alive and relevant!
My favorite exhibits:
Weather Permitting illustrates how Minnesotans adapt to their cold snowy environment, deal with tornados, and escape to their 10,000 lakes.
Seeing a car stuck in a snowbank–an all too familiar scene for those of us who've lived here–was funny, as was the film playing in the car window showing the daily hassles of winter living. Mannequins huddled at a bus stop, bundled up in snowmobile suits, parkas and buffalo coats show what a pain it is to stand idly outside.
In My First Minnesota Winter, the shocked reactions of present day residents who immigrated from Venezuela and Somalia are hilarious to read! See how Minnesotans embrace winter with a Carnival (the lighted ice castle is spectacular!) and turn frozen lakes turn into miniature cities. You can peek inside an ice-fishing hut, watch videos about this popular sport and listen to Garrison Keiller recordings.
Did you know waterskiing was invented in Minnesota? Yep, in 1922. See the original skis Samuelson used when he first attempted this sport in Lake City.
Help Wanted provides a glimpse of what jobs were like for the working class living here during the 1930s and 40s. You move through simulated "work" stations trying your hand at different jobs. (I was a poor telephone operator.)
Home Place has ten minute plays about early settlers to Minnesota based on diaries, memoirs and novels. Whereas Tales of the Territory highlights life from 1849-58 before Minnesota became a state. Instead of focusing on pioneer life, you learn about the cultural clashes that occurred between Indians, French and Americans. Special effects with mirrors make these characters spring to life as they tell their tales.
Minnesota A to Z displays 700 items specific to Minnesota arranged around a theme. Listen to a loon, watch the Twins win the World Series, see Prince's costume from Purple Rain...
Grainland is a 24 ton boxcar and grain elevator that kids love to explore while learning about the importance of farming in Minnesota. There's a great display on harvesting wild rice.
Sounds Good to Me is the newest exhibit. Walk through a streetscape and hear different kinds of music depending on which door you step inside...a nightclub, home parlor, DJ booth, ballroom and more. Elaborate sets, rare film footage and oversized dolls for visitors to dress in styles of the 20s, 50s and 70s make it fascinating and fun.
Hungry? The wild rice soup in Café Minnesota is absolutely yummy, as are the gourmet lunch selections.
The Museum, located in downtown St. Paul near the Capitol, is FREE. Open Tuesday-Sunday. Check it out!!!
From journal Marvelous Minneapolis