BEST MUSEUM EXHIBIT Minneapolis 2006 - Minnesota History Center
In general, there's much to adore about the Minnesota History Center. For instance, it seems to be the only place in the Twin Cities that celebrates a local rock 'n' roll great—the Bermuda shorts-clad Augie Garcia, who had a minor, terrific, and impossible-to-find hit in 1955 with a song called "Hi Yo Silver." At the History Center, patrons can sit in a booth and hear Garcia's recording while at the same time admiring an actual pair of his Bermuda shorts. It's great fun, but, for our tastes, the History Center attraction that truly has what American Idol's Simon Cowell calls the "wow factor" is the interactive tornado exhibit. There appears to be little to it at first: You're ushered into a small room that looks like a nondescript suburban basement; an old black-and-white TV and an equally musty radio warn of an approaching twister—which seems a little eerie, but hardly reason enough for the warning that this exhibit may be too intense for younger children. But then the winds kick up, audible through the sides of this ersatz basement, growing louder as a klaxon blares. The lights dim and die, and through a small basement window you can see the skies outside turn an eerie green. As the sounds of the wind grow to near-painful intensity, a small tree outside the window is suddenly uprooted, collapsing against the window, and the basement shudders as though the house above it were being torn away from the earth. As it settles, the television flicks back to life, playing actual newsreel footage of a 1965 tornado strike in Fridley. You stagger out of the exhibit, sober and terrified. Never mind the kids warning: This exhibit may be too intense for anybody.