MORE

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities

May is Minnesota Museum month. This Saturday, museums will additionally be celebrating International Museum Day. So with those two things in mind there's no better time than now to check out all the science, art, history, and fun that our local museums have to offer. The following are some of our favorites in the Twin Cities. What would you have on your list? 

(1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600)

We are so lucky to have the Walker Art Center in the Twin Cities. With its visual-art exhibitions, performing arts shows, and films screenings that can't be found anywhere else, it's the place to go to get some of the most cutting-edge contemporary art forms from all over the world. The WAC develops relationships with artists throughout their career, commissioning new works by the likes of Bill T. Jones, Eiko and Koma, and Meredith Monk. It also finds a place for local artists through commissioning new pieces from groups like Body Cartography Project, hosting the annual Choreographers' Evening, and including local artists in its major exhibitions (Ruben Nusz's contribution to "Lifelike" being a recent example). The Walker has innovative free programming on Thursday nights, and free family events on the first Saturday of the month. Plus, the Walker's Open Field, taking place on the grounds outside the museum, has proved to be a rousing success.

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
Photo of the MIA by Avanidhar Chandrasekaran via Flickr
(2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.870.3000)

Even if you can't afford to travel around the globe, you can see masterpieces from all different cultures and eras at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Each visit will afford a new discovery, whether it's spending time with a Monet or a Rembrandt, checking out the incredibly beautiful Chinese jade collection, or viewing some of the spectacular American Indian pieces. While the museum has plenty of masterpieces from long ago and far away, it has recently started putting more emphasis on contemporary art as well. The museum also has the MAEP galleries, which showcase the great wealth of local artists here in Minnesota. Each month the MIA also hosts the very fun Third Thursday.

On view: "Concerning the Spiritual in Russian Art 1965-2011"
On view: "Concerning the Spiritual in Russian Art 1965-2011"
Courtesy The Museum of Russian Art

(5500 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.821.9045)

The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) is a wonderfully intimate museum, located in what was formerly Mayflower Church, built in a Spanish Colonial-Revival style. The museum's small size makes it perfect for a short outing, as you're usually able to peruse the entire collection in one visit, making it a little less daunting than larger art institutions. The rotating exhibits are original and quite different from anything else you might see here in the Twin Cities, focusing on Russian art from different periods. An added bonus is that the museum has a wonderful little gift shop, with free tea and cookies, that is a must-stop every time you visit. 

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
Courtesy Bakken Museum 

(3537 Zenith Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.926.3878)

Located on the west shore of Lake Calhoun, the Bakken Museum is housed in a 1920s mansion designed by Carl Gage for William Goodfellow. The structure combines English Tudor, European Gothic Revival, and other architectural styles. The museum began from the collection of Earl Bakken, an engineer and the co-founder of Medtronic. Bakken had a strong interest in historical scientific instruments, and accumulated quite a library of scientific books. The museum now hosts lots of different kinds of programming, including Frankenstein's Laboratory, a 12-minute show that brings the tale of Frankenstein to life; "Ben Franklin's Electricity Party," which allows visitors to see how electricity works; as well as other fun and interactive activities. You'll want to be sure to check out the gardens, too. There's the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden, inspired by similar European gardens; the Green Energy Art Garden; and the Dakota Native Plants Gardens, encompassing the wetlands area on the east side of the museum.

Minnesota History Center

(345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.259.3000)

The Minnesota Historical Society, the nonprofit organization behind the Minnesota History Center, has -- not unlike other museums across the country -- a rather problematic history in relation to American Indian people, as they displayed Chief Little Crow's remains after his death in 1863. However, in recent years the organization has made efforts to return objects and human remains to the tribes they belong to. They have also sought to include Native perspectives on the history of Minnesota. The current exhibit "The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862" is an attempt to tell the whole story of what really happened to the Dakota people, and is definitely an important exhibit for any Minnesotan to see (it's on view until September). Also at the museum is the popular "Greatest Generation Exhibit," and next fall "American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" should be a fun one to check out. The Minnesota Historical Society has one of the best libraries in the state, and is housed in the same building. It's a great place to do research on family history. 

 

Photo by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr
Photo by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr

(120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.221.9444)

The Science of Museum of Minnesota makes learning about science an entertaining and interactive experience. No matter where your interest lies, there's always something that will catch your eye. Plus, it has an awesome Omnitheater. Parents may want to consider getting a membership, as it's a great day activity for kids, and you can visit multiple times a year for a lower cost. But the Science Museum isn't just for kids. It also hosts monthly "Social Science" events that allow adults to come into the museum, socialize, listen to music, and, yes, drink beer. The museum also hosts the "Beaker and Brush" discussions that focus on the intersection of science and art.
Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
The Bell Museum is home to many awesome dioramas

Bell Museum of Natural History 

(University of Minnesota, 10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.624.7083)

Changes are coming for the Bell Museum, which plans to move into a new building at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus as soon as funding is secured. In the meantime, there's a lot to like about the current space, which has a very old-school feel. Filled with creepy yet awesome taxidermy, exhibits about the environment, and neato dioramas created by Minnesota artist Francis Lee Jaques, the museum provides a much more intimate experience in some ways than going to the Science Museum. And if you're interested in stars, the Exploradome (the product of a merger with the Bell and the Planetarium Society), offers shows every day.

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
Photo by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr

(333 East River Rd., Minneapolis; 612.625.9494)

There's no doubt that the Weisman Art Museum is one of the Twin Cities' most unusal buildings. Designed by Frank Gehry, the reflective stainless steel shaped into various asymmetrical forms is a piece of modern art itself, and is a beautiful sight to behold, especially at sunset. The museum was recently renovated, allowing more space for the variety of exhibitions that travel through, which are primarily contemporary. Admission is free.

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
Photo by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr

(10 W. Seventh St., St Paul; 651.225.6000)

The Minnesota Children's Museum is a great place for kids to have fun and learn at the same time. Whether they're playing in one of the museum's immersive habitats, exploring artmaking on the Rooftop Artpark, or checking out one of the rotating traveling exhibits, this is a great place where kids get to discover and have fun. 

Top 10 museums in the Twin Cities
Photo by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr

American Swedish Institute
(2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis; 612.871.4907)

The American Swedish Institute actually has two buildings: the castle-like Turnblad mansion, filled with intricate woodwork and stained glass, and the newly created Nelson Cultural Center. It's an especially fun place to visit around the holidays, as it hosts a fantastic St. Lucia event each year. The museum also offers a variety of classes for both children and adults that include everything from Swedish language to weaving. 


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >