Minnesota History Center, St. Paul 2021

Created as the headquarters and central draw point for the Minnesota Historical Society in 1992, the current building replaced the old long-term headquarters on the capitol grounds that has now been removed.

Holding over 1,000,000 artifacts of historical and cultural significance, plus a very large library of documents and books concerning Minnesota, it's the best place to study all things Minnesota (eh?).

There are three major display areas hosting exhibits containing multitudes of related collection pieces, with some that rotate every 6 months or so. This is the reason I went.

The Arrival

Drove east on I-94 to the Kellogg street entrance. Took a right and you cannot miss the history center a half mile further along, off to your left.


The entrance corridor is a good distance in length passing the dining area, obligatory Covid warnings and the gift shops to the ticket desk. I had pre-purchased my ticket, so I just verified my time and up the stairs I went.
As you traverse up to the floor where the displays are housed, a 1920s airmail plane stripped of its canvas

First Section

The first area of display is currently dedicated to Native American impact and history in Minnesota, with multitudes of items and descriptions of impacts or usage. It's pretty interesting stuff, many things I had not seen before.
Burial box made from reeds Baskets that were not just crafts but required for life Deerskin was the durable basis for many items
Intensely detailed and beaded blanket Indians served with excellence in our military, after being treated horribly before by the same institution
Baby carrier, not up to DOT standards but fulfilled the need for thousands of years

Second Section

A more permanent area of display with the recent history of Minnesota (read: after white people got here).

Displays of the settlement of the area and harvesting of resources the state has.
Everything had to be imported at first, over packaging to the max The southern part of the state was all prairies with a foot thick base of sod, used to build houses as there were no trees around A very important resource to our state is minerals that we hard rock mine
Blow that wall up! Backdoor of the school bus that fell when the I-35W bridge collapsed.  A defining moment in MN history The first Minnesota industry, trading for furs

Third Section

Minnesota's greatest generation, my favorite time period and a testament to the people who saved the world.

Covering how the formative years, up to the war, and then the time afterwards shaped the lives of the people who lived during this era and how it impacted the state.
Not hyperbole, the truth A place in the 1920s where many children would spend their Saturdays.  The movies and social interactions of that time shaped their future views and sense of responsibility to our country
The uniforms of the mighty Welcome to Ft. Snelling; you're a soldier now This is all you may have to eat for the next day or so, keep it dry
Armored cars, some produced in St. Paul Interior of a C47 simulating a landing during D-Day where 7 men, all from Minnesota, survived the crash.  Quite humbling Standard cargo and man transport plane of the war
Women provided a huge amount of support to win the war After the war, people wanted to live and spend, and Dayton's was a world class store to use that money you had saved up during the conflict

Fourth Section

Minnesota's outdoors, weather, sports, other things very attuned to this climate.
An area on weather and how people here cope, we sure seem to have a lot of it Lightly dressed to be able to enjoy a sled down the hill... The sport invented in Minnesota.  Water skiing


Surprisingly robust collections and displays, I didn't know what to expect and I was thoroughly impressed.

Great experience and hours of perusing and learning.
A gift shop so large with so many Minnesota things, they had to make it two!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated, so they will be posted after approval

Related blog posts

Bell Museum St. Paul 2021 - Posted: 2021-07-22
Minnesota Landscape Arboreteum - Posted: 2021-08-26
Minneapolis Institute of Arts - Posted: 2022-08-11
Como Park and Zoo - Posted: 2022-08-18