And the Rest, As They Say, is HISTORY

Have you guys been to the Minnesota History Center? Based on the fact that the 3 times we have been there it is almost completely empty, I am going to guess that the answer is NO for many of you. We didn’t discover this gem until last summer, even though I drive by it EVERY SINGLE DAY on my way to work in downtown St. Paul. I always thought it was a cool building, but had no idea the treasure that awaited us inside this beautiful place.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Being the frugalista that I am, we usually go the Minnesota History Center on Tuesday nights. Admission is free from 5:00-8:00 PM.  That’s right, completely FREE (that’s my favorite 4-letter word).

All of the galleries are on the 3rd floor, so my boys make a beeline straight for the stairs, confident they know exactly where to go. Isn’t it amazing that adults need to consult a map and kids just have a sense of where the magic is? I do make them stop for an obligatory photo by the huge Minnesota postcard on the 1st floor landing.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

While they scamper off up the stairs, I am drawn towards my simple surroundings and want to test out my new camera in one of the most beautiful architectural buildings.  I find them at the end of the hallway, admiring the Minnesota State Capitol from afar, just as the sun is setting.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Our first stop is the Then Now Wow exhibit, which showcases highlights from Minnesota History. Here, we donned miner hats and learned about the rich mining culture of Northern Minnesota.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

They had fun blasting away the dynamite.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The boys loved the opportunity to pretend to be veterinarians and put the insides back together of this life-size buffalo that had been ‘hunted down.’

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We made our way to this Pioneer Home from 1874.  Can you imagine living like this during a cold winter like this one? Brrr…

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

There is a neat hands-on activity that demonstrates how farmers used oxen to help plow their fields. It wasn’t long before the kids were asking “were you born before they invented cars?” and “how did people live without  electricity?” They were shocked that kids their age actually had to WALK to school, which was usually a one-room school house with all grades together.  Let me just say for them, MIND BLOWN.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

We made a quick walk through the Soo Line train {perfect if you have a train lover like I once did}.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Then the boys were excited for the next stop – the ever popular Grainland.  If you don’t go on a Tuesday night, this place alone makes it worth the admission price.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

After getting all hot and sweaty, the boys were ready to cool off with some {make believe} ice cream at the Old Fashioned Soda Shop in the Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit.  While they made ice cream, I liked to check out the oldies but goodies playing from the juke box in the corner.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

We made our way toward one of the highlights of the Minnesota History Center, a hollowed out C-47 war plane, where we heard a chilling account of what happened on D-Day. The personal words from a fellow Minnesota soldier bring me to tears and keeps me eternally grateful for those who have fought for our freedom. I have never felt more proud to be an American. While its hard for the boys to learn about much of this subject matter, I do believe it is important for them to understand this part of history.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

The next exhibit we visited was called Minnesota Memorable Weather.  Here we could ride out a simulation of one of the deadliest tornadoes in Minnesota history from this replica of a basement storm shelter. For anyone who has ever lived through a tornado, this was very surreal.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Lastly, we made our way to the One Home, Many Families exhibit where you can walk through a replica of one house in St. Paul that has been called home to many families over the past 100 years. It is really neat to see how different families lived in different eras.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

This is a picture of a stereo opticon, the first invention of its kind that allowed us to share pictures. Just think…right now you are (hopefully) enjoying pictures from a Twin Cities Moms Blog post on your computer or smart phone, likely over high speed wireless internet.  Innovation is amazing.

Explore the Minnesota History Center | Twin Cities Moms Blog

This is a fun, interactive exhibit that showcases the rising cost of goods and services over the years. A hotel room for $9.99? Beat that, Priceline.

This is just the beginning of the fun to be had at the Minnesota History Center. There is so much more to do and see, including a great museum store and a fun café if you need a treat or even a full meal.

There is also a Special Exhibits gallery that is home to travelling exhibits.  Last year, we walked through the making of the Constitution, and on April 26th, the Sight Sounds and Soul: Twin Cities through the Lens of Charles Chamblis exhibit opens, which is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

So tell me, after reading this, do you want to take your family to the Minnesota History Center?  I hope so!  If you do, I want to hear about it.

Shine On Friends-

Karri

9 Responses to And the Rest, As They Say, is HISTORY

  1. Jenna April 11, 2014 at 8:16 AM #

    I didn’t know this museum had so many hands on exhibits. We are definitely going to check it out:)

    • Karri
      Karri April 11, 2014 at 3:15 PM #

      Awesome! Yes, there is lots for the little to touch, which is just they way I like it! Thanks for reading.

  2. Suzanne
    Suzanne April 11, 2014 at 8:24 AM #

    Karri-

    I had my wedding reception there! It was a hot day, but all that marble made it much cooler that day. I have not been back since, now I will!

    Thanks for the review!

    • Katie April 11, 2014 at 8:46 AM #

      Wedding location? Good to know! I’ve been there on field trips in the past, and I wanted so badly to go to the prohibition exhibit, but the timing just never worked.

      • Karri
        Karri April 11, 2014 at 3:18 PM #

        The prohibition exhibit was awesome! Too bad they don’t stay a little longer. thanks for reading!

    • Karri
      Karri April 11, 2014 at 3:16 PM #

      I didn’t know you had your wedding reception there! For some reason I thought you got married in Stillwater. Tatum and Turner will love it!

  3. Kristina April 11, 2014 at 2:05 PM #

    Karri – our kids also love this place although the then now wow exhibit wasn’t there and I know my kids would love that! I think that the library used to offer free passes also so if Mom’s are looking to go you should definitely check that out! Thanks for the great review…we will be adding this to our summer bucket list!

    • Karri
      Karri April 11, 2014 at 3:19 PM #

      As Always, thank you for reading Kristina! Noah and Kyla will love Then Now Wow!

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