It opened in 2006 along the banks of the Mississippi River
Consists of 6 exhibits, all works of ‘great art inspired by water’
3 of the 6 exhibits switch out about every 5 months
Permanently on display are two pieces by Picasso, a Georgia O’Keefe from 1922 in its original frame, a Monet and one of two paintings of Washington crossing the Delaware — the version at MMAM hung in the White House for 30 years
Grab a headset and go on a self-guided tour
Cost: $7 adults, $3 students; a $20 cap for families
The new Bell Museum opened on the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota in July 2018; the approximately 92,000 square foot building cost around $79 million
The museum, which celebrates the state’s natural history, is operated by the University of Minnesota
The incredible dioramas visitors saw at the old Bell Museum are bigger and even more realistic
Don’t miss the Bell’s first new diorama in over 60 years — a woolly mammoth surrounded by giant beavers and a glacier you can walk in. You can see it from outside the museum!
It is also home to Minnesota’s only planetarium
The day I visited, there were four shows to choose from; I saw “Minnesota in the Cosmos,” which was followed by a tour through the night sky
The Bell hosts day and night telescope observing programs on their roof
They also have Minnesota stargazing tips on their blog
If you visit with kids, make sure to visit the Touch & See Lab on the first floor, where you can hold a cockroach
Make sure you try mating with a sandhill crane in a virtual reality experience on the second floor
Cost for exhibits and planetarium: $17 adults, $14 seniors, $12 kids 3 to 21, kids 2 and under free
If you qualify for WIC, Social Security Disability Benefits, Free/Reduced Price School Meals, Section 8 or other assistance programs, admission is free and planetarium tickets are $4 for adults/seniors and $3 for kids. Learn more here.
Those who qualify for assistance programs can become members of the Bell Museum for $15 a year. That includes free admission to exhibits and $2 planetarium tickets. Learn more here.
You do not need to pay to access the library, located on the second floor
To use library resources, you must register with a photo ID on your first visit
In addition to free access to Ancestry.com, the Gale Family Library offers free access to Fold3, a military records database.
If you want to do a deeper genealogy search, you will find birth records, cemetery records, census records, death records, marriage records and more
You can also access newspapers.com, a full text search of the Minneapolis Tribune from 1867-2001 and (really cool) fire insurance maps for cities across Minnesota
The Gale Family Library is closed Sundays and Mondays
Cost to History Center exhibits: $12 adults, $10 seniors/veterans/active military/college students, $6 kids 5-17, kids 4 and under free
If you qualify for WIC, Social Security Disability Benefits, Free/Reduced Price School Meals, Section 8 or other assistance programs, admission is $4 for adults and free for kids 17 and under. Learn more here.
Admission to the History Center is free on Tuesdays from 3-8 p.m.
The Science Museum is downtown Saint Paul, right down the street from the History Center
It offers 3 floors packed with exhibits, ranging from the sports medicine to race
You will enter the exhibits on level 5. On that floor, make sure to visit:
The Augmented Reality Sandbox in the Mississippi River Gallery. You can use your hands to make it rain and create a watershed
Walk inside a tugboat, offering one of the best views of the Mississippi River and Harriet Island
Head down to level 4 for:
The Science Museum added a Wellness Room in the back of their race exhibit. It’s a quiet, private space where guests can nurse a child, pray, or take a break from the busy museum. It offers a lounge chair, a white noise machine and sensory-friendly toys. You do have to know it exists if you want it — it’s extremely tucked away
On level 3:
Another tucked away hidden gem is the colony of dermestid beetles used by Science Museum curators to “clean” soft issue from their biological specimens. The beetles live in the Biology Lab, but you will be able to see them at work through a window.
Near the cafe is the Science Live stage show. Professional actors bring science to life through the magic of theater.
The Science Museum is home to the Omnitheater, offering movies on an IMAX screen. I saw “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition”, a CNN Films documentary about the first man to walk on the moon in 1969
The Science Museum offers Sensory Friendly Sundays, where they offer a lights up, sound down Omnitheater show, smaller crowds (they open early) and a designated quiet space to recharge. They occur the third Sunday of every month
Cost for exhibits and Omnitheater: $24.95 adults, $19.95 kids 4-12/seniors, kids 3 and under free
If you qualify for WIC, Social Security Disability Benefits, Free/Reduced Price School Meals, Section 8 or other assistance programs, admission is $5 for the Omnitheater and exhibits and $3 for only exhibits. Learn more here.
Students can get an Omnitheater and exhibits ticket for $12 on Fridays after 5 p.m. with a school ID