Two Travel-Worthy Museum Exhibits

So what do I mean by “travel-worthy” museum exhibit? To me the term might best describe that exhibit that’s so unique it might form the base upon which you could create an entire trip. They are the big name tours that don’t come around that often, providing what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view some amazing objects and artwork. Right now, the Twin Cities is host to two such exhibits; one that opens later this month, and another that closes in just a matter of weeks.

China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy” is an amazing exhibition of both artwork and archeology currently on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you haven’t had a chance to view them over the past couple of months, there’s still time, but you have to hurry. The exhibit, on display through January 27, features more than 120 objects from the tomb complex of Chinese emperor Qin Shihuang (259-210 BCE). In 1974, Chinese farmers drilling a well near present-day Shaanxi discovered fragments of terracotta figures. Little did they know, they had stumbled upon an archeological treasure. Excavations unearthed more than 7,000 individual terracotta warriors of different ranks, complete with horses and chariots, meant to protect the Emperor in the afterlife. Research at the site continues to this day, and this current exhibit not only includes eight of the life-size terracotta warriors, but also artifacts found at the site in 2005, that include a group of four life-size water birds: a crane, a swan, and two geese.

A second must-see exhibit opens January 18 at The Science Museum of Minnesota: “Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life.” A process called plastination developed by Dr. Gunther von Hagens preserves real human bodies in various stages of development, in sickness and in health. An earlier exhibition, “Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies,” debuted in St. Paul in 2006, and it was the most popular exhibit in Science Museum of Minnesota history. I will admit that I was a bit uncomfortable when I first viewed the bodies on display during the first exhibit. But I was far more fascinated than repulsed at the amazing biology of the real human bodies. This latest special presentation depicts individual organs, systems, as well as full-body plastinates, living through time in various poses, including a baseball player, a male gymnast, a pair of skaters, and others. Granted, this type of exhibition isn’t to everyone’s taste, but for those with an interest in science or medicine, it’s truly an unforgettable experience. So if you haven’t made your travel plans to the Twin Cities, you may want to include this during your visit. Body Worlds will be on display through May 5.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
“China’s Terracotta Warriors,” through Jan. 27
$18-$20, Free for members
Reserve tickets online.

Science Museum of Minnesota
“Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life,” Jan. 18-May 5
Members: $14, $9 (Children 4-12, Seniors 60+); Includes admission to Omnitheater film
Non-member: $34, $26 (Children 4-12, Seniors 60+); Includes admission to Omnitheater film (without film $27, $19)
Reserve tickets online.