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The Museum of Russian Art
Minneapolis may seem like an unlikely location for a sanctuary for Russian art, but The Museum of Russian Art prides itself on showcasing works rarely seen in the United States. Its location—a Spanish Colonial-style structure that formerly housed the Mayflower Congregational Church—affords the museum the opportunity to continue the traditions of the building it occupies while establishing its own legacy.
Concerning the Spiritual in Russian Art, 1965-2011 (continuing) unites artists from the Soviet and post-Soviet eras by their artistic reactions to government suppression of religious thought. Media as varied as oil on canvas to photography convey the conflict between cultural tolerance and political ideology throughout the era. Curious as to what Russia’s religious landscape looked like prior to the Soviet era? Check out Cast Icons: Preserving Sacred Traditions (continuing). Observe how both official and persecuted churches used these beautiful and remarkably physical icons to express their faith. The exhibit features more than a hundred religious tokens and crosses made from copper alloy and adorned with colorful enamel and gilding.
Don’t miss: The mezzanine provides a prime location to admire the beauty and detail of the building as well as the art housed within it.
5500 Stevens Avenue S.
Mill City Museum
The Washburn A Mill enjoyed a 50-year run as the world’s largest flour producer and stood majestically on the riverbank for decades more until it was ravaged by fire in 1991. Now visitors can ride the eight-story flour tower elevator and see the mill’s history come to life, as well as watch a model mill explode in a replica of the real-life 1878 blast while guided by costumed docents. Who knew flour could be this fun?
But don’t just watch history—taste it! Head to the Baking Lab for Mill City’s Bake-Off Challenge (March 9) to learn about the Pillsbury Bake-Off’s storied 45-year history, sample a winning recipe and put museum staffers on the spot as they attempt to concoct a winning recipe. The test kitchen is back in action on March 24 when the staff pits mix against scratch; let your taste buds decide which brownie is better while learning about the history of baking mixes. While you’re there, be sure to watch “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat.” Local comedian Kevin Kling narrates a whirlwind look at the city’s history—from its humble beginnings on St. Anthony Falls to the bustling metropolis its become—taking time to examine the quirky history behind the Foshay tower, the vibrancy of Lake Street and more along the way.
Hot tip: Stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge and take in the power of St. Anthony Falls. The Mississippi River’s only waterfall propelled Minneapolis to its status as milling capital of the world from 1880-1930.
704 S. Second Street
Overlooked, Oddball and Off the Beaten Path
The Twin Cities have a plethora of world-class museums to suit any taste, but there’s something to be said for quirky niche museums as well. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Museum of Broadcasting: Try your hand at tuning a radio from the 1920s (it’s not as easy as it sounds), or watch the kids produce their own broadcast in an authentic 1960s-era studio. Besides the fun and games, the museum also houses one of the finest collections of radio, TV and broadcast equipment in the world.
3517 Raleigh Avenue
St. Louis Park, MN
The Schubert Club Museum: Explore the evolution of keyboard instruments, peruse through the manuscript collection of famous musicians’ correspondence, or learn about the storied history of recital performance. Best of all, admission is free.
75 W. Fifth Street
St. Paul, MN
The Bakken Museum: Kids of all ages will enjoy discovering the mysteries of magnetism through hands-on activities or taking a seat at one of Ben Franklin’s electricity parties and finding out how early discoveries in static electricity were made.
3537 Zenith Avenue S.