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With nearly 60 museums in the Twin Cities (trailing behind only Chicago and Washington D.C.), this is an ideal spot for lifelong learners. Whether you want to see famous photographs, real human specimens, dinosaur bones or Civil War artifacts, we’ve got fun and educational offerings for all.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
No matter what type of art you’re a fan of, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a must-stop spot. With a collection boasting more than 83,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years and several continents, it’s no surprise that the museum is one of the largest art educators in Minnesota. Each year more than half a million visitors make their way here to see prints, photographs, paintings, textiles, sculptures and works in other mediums that come from Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Featuring the work of 28 international artists, More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness (opens March 21) addresses how technological change and social upheaval caused former “truths” to be doubted, changing one's concept of reality. Drawing from the museum’s collection, Strangers in a Strange Land: Photographers’ First Impressions (continuing) showcases famous works like Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother and Philip Jones Griffiths’ Wounded Female Civilian. Collectively, the chosen pieces show how photographers render a sense of culture and place through images, affecting viewer’s impressions. You can also see work from Minnesota artists with David Bowen’s Underwater, an interactive installation based off of digital data from Lake Superior and Brett Smith’s Superimposter, which features scaled models of recognizable movie sets (continuing).
Good to know: Admission is free all day, every day (except Mondays when the museum is closed).
2400 Third Avenue S.
American Swedish Institute
With the Scandinavian culture gaining national notice as of late, there’s never been a better time to visit the American Swedish Institute. A former residence of Swedish immigrants, the institute serves as a place for people to share and learn about the traditions, migrations and arts and crafts of the people. With the addition of the 34,000-square-foot Nelson Cultural Center last summer, the museum now also contains an event center, gallery, reception area, courtyard, terrace, studio craft classroom, new Museum Shop space and a Nordic-inspired café, Fika. Aside from exploring the wealth of heritage inside, visitors will awe over the castle-like structure, which was built in 1908 and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn about those indigenous to the northernmost parts of Europe, including Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, in Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People (continuing). The Sámi people are known for their traditional crafts, nomadic herding practices and 400-year-old Winter Market in Jokkmokk, Sweden, and this exhibit offers you the rare chance to explore the people through their own work and artifacts, as well as photographs by Birgitte Aarestrup, author of “8 Seasons Above the Arctic Circle: The Sámi of Lapland.”
Don’t miss: Picking up a slöjd (Swedish handcraft) at the Museum Shop, or trying a smörgås (open-faced sandwich) at Fika.
2600 Park Avenue
Science Museum of Minnesota
Known for its interactive traveling exhibits (not to mention 70,000 square feet of exhibition space), here there’s always something new to discover. Dedicated to topics like paleontology, physical science, technology, the human body and the people and culture of the Mississippi River, the museum is also home to a large-format Omnitheater, screening films that relate to the same core subjects. If you have a curious mind, this is where you belong.
Featuring more than 200 real human specimens, BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life (continuing) illustrates how the body grows and changes throughout its lifespan. Learn about the long-term impact of diseases, understand the mechanics of artificial supports, see the effects of lifestyle choices and more by looking at whole-body plastinates, individual organs, organ configurations and transparent body slices. Trade in whole bodies for bones at the Dinosaurs and Fossils exhibit, where you can see one of the world’s only four real mounted Triceratops specimens. Here you can learn about what happened when the dinosaurs died out, try to piece together a dinosaur from a fossil and operate a Tyrannosaurus Rex jaw. Right now on the 90-foot domed Omnitheater screen you can catch Tornado Alley (continuing), which takes you on an epic chase through the “severe weather capital of the world,” showing never-before-captured footage.
Don’t miss: The Cell Lab exhibit where you can use real equipment to perform experiments.
120 W. Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN