The Science Museum of Minnesota

Ed Forteau's picture

On our recent trip to the Twin Cities, we had the good fortune to go explore and play at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This is one of my very favorite museums, and I am so happy that we are able to share it with you!

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum draws you in from the very beginning, above (twirling things) and below (a gorgeous map on the floor). The staff were extremely friendly to kids - helping when needed, and always ready with a quick story or lesson. We spent some time in the Fishing area and talked for a bit with the gentleman there, learning about wolf pelts, beavers, fishing, and more. It was fascinating. Our 6-year old daughter loved the Experiment Gallery, and played with electricity, learned about waves and resonance, bike-powered lightbulbs, and played a great deal at the activity station.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota

She was also enthralled with the Dinosaur and Fossils Gallery, imagining these creatures in real life! Kids are always interested in dinosaurs and Lillie had questions about each of them. She especially like the Diplodocus and the T. rex interactive jaws.

We also were entranced with the Seismofon, a massive musical sculpture that chimes when there is seismic activity beneath the Earth's surface.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota

In the Human Body Gallery, we explored:

The Bloodstream Super Highway – we saw how blood is pumped through the body based on the size and weight of the person.  Saw how the heart works.  And took our blood pressure.

Tissues – saw the different layers of skin, and what happens with tissue is injured.

The Sneezer – simulated being sneezed on, and how disease is spread when you sneeze on someone.

The Body Hotel – we saw many of the parasites that live on the human body.


In the Experiment Gallery, we:

Energy Transformations – a variety of hands-on experiments to that show how energy is created.  Lillie enjoyed peddling a bike that created electricity.

Atmospheric Explorations – Lillie was fascinated by the 11-foot tornado.

Air and Air Dynamics – The floating ball that demonstrated Bernoulli’s Principle was something Lillie wanted to show mom as soon as she arrived.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota

Founded in 1907 as the Saint Paul Institute of Science and Letters, the Science Museum of Minnesota welcomes more than one million visitors each year to see its world-class collection of dinosaurs and fossils, the nation's only convertible IMAX dome Omnitheater, its trademark hands- and bodies-on science exhibits, and a blockbuster slate of traveling exhibitions.

The Science Museum has occupied several locations in its 100-year-history, and opened its current, state-of-the-art museum facility in 1999. The Science Museum is the most-visited museum in the five-state region and consistently ranks first in Twin Cities rankings for favorite museums and favorite family outings.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Long History of Science Education Leadership
In addition to welcoming learners of all ages to its St. Paul location, the Science Museum of Minnesota has numerous research and business operations that have elevated the St. Paul-based non-profit organization to a role of international leadership among science museums.

In addition to being the nation's leading museum producer of large format IMAX films, the Science Museum of Minnesota is also one of an elite group of organizations that creates and distributes museum exhibits to an international market and custom-builds exhibits for museums across the country.

Science Museum scientists and researchers span the globe, frequently publishing their groundbreaking research in paleontology and environmental sciences in leading scientific journals. The Science Museum's collection includes some 1.75 million artifacts.

The Science Museum has one of the most extensive and diverse arrays of museum education programming in the country, including: programs serving K-12 school audiences that reached 262,055 students and 1,540 teachers in 2006; out-of-school programs that serve nearly 26,000 youth each year; and adult programs that reach more than 13,000 people each year.

Science Museum of Minnesota

The Science Museum's primary visitor attractions include:

* The United States' only convertible dome IMAX theater—the William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater. This theater has two screens: a 90-foot diameter domed screen that can rotate back behind the audience seating area to reveal a 90'x 70' flat screen;

* The Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery, including the largest of only four Triceratops in the world;

* The Mississippi River Gallery, including an authentic, climb-aboard Mississippi River towboat perched on a 75-foot-high gallery balcony overlooking the river;

* The 6,000-square-foot Human Body Gallery, featuring a Cell Lab in which visitors can view DNA and see their own cells under a microscope;

* The Collections Gallery, highlighting a "greatest hits" selection of the museum's collection of 1.75 million artifacts;

* The popular Experiment Gallery including hands-on exhibits on electricity, weather, the physical and natural sciences, and mathematics (favorites include the "make a tornado" activity, the "bicycle-powered light bulbs" activity, and the "Optics Lab");

* U.S. Bank Great Hall, with 10,000 square feet of space for traveling exhibits (scheduled seasonally);

* The Seismofon, a massive musical sculpture that chimes when there is seismic activity beneath Earth's surface;

* Amenities include restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating and several special event spaces; and

* The Big Back Yard, a 1.2 acre outdoor exhibit gallery featuring nine holes of science-themed miniature golf, a 17,000 square-foot prairie maze, large scale interactive exhibits, a Panning for Gemstones and Fossils activity, and Science House, the Science Museum's award-winning solar powered building.


Facts about the Science Museum of Minnesota:

*   The Science Museum of Minnesota has a volume of more than 8.2 million cubic feet. (That's room for 779 million light bulbs, and even more bright ideas!)
* The Science Museum has nearly 370,000 square feet of indoor space. This equals 8½ acres under one roof.
* The Science Museum also has ten acres of outdoor parks – including the outdoor activities in the Big Backyard– right along the Mississippi River.
* The Science Museum has 37,000 square feet of windows offering dramatic views of the Mississippi River and downtown St. Paul.
* The museum includes 24,240 square feet for Research and Collections, giving scientists plenty of state-of-the-art space to research and preserve the museum's 1.75 million artifacts.
* The William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater, a convertible IMAX® Dome, seats 375 visitors, and every seat has an excellent view of the show.
* The Museum's Omnitheater is the only convertible IMAX® dome theater in the United States. (A convertible dome IMAX® theater can convert from a seven-story tall, nine-story-wide flat screen to a nine-story wide domed screen allowing maximum flexibility.)
* The Omnitheater has a volume of 1,234,688 cubic feet, or 9,235,466 gallons – larger than the combined volume of all six of Shamu the killer whale's tanks at Orlando's Sea World.
* The museum has seven state-of-the-art classrooms in a specially-designed classroom suite on a dedicated education floor. Four of these classrooms can be partitioned, making the grand total 11.
* The Science Museum welcomes more than a million visitors every year, and reaches more than 260,000 K-12 students and more than 1,500 teachers from all over Minnesota and across the region.

Science Museum of Minnesota

We also saw Grand Canyon Adventure - River at Risk - at the Omnitheater - have you ever been to an Omnitheater?

Theater fans love the way the Omnitheater's power, clarity, comfort, and flexibility enable them to experience a story like no other theater can. The Omnitheater has two screens and two projectors. Its 89-foot-diameter dome screen is specially designed for use with the IMAX® projector, which uses the world's largest film format. Visitors will often see this massive dome being lowered over their heads at the beginning of an Omnitheater show, showcasing the trademark feature of the first convertible dome IMAX® theater in the United States. Due to the dome's massive size, movie-goers can look up, down, right, and left, and find themselves fully surrounded by the movie's crystal-clear visuals and audio.

When the dome is raised, visitors have a clear view of a stage and a 90-foot-wide flat screen, compatible with the theater's Hughes-JVC projector, one of the most powerful digital projection systems in existence.

This was incredible - we love whitewater rafting, and felt like we were going down the river with them. The movie also presents the history and culture of the area, as well as the importance of taking care of our environment.


If you are anywhere near Minnesota, please take the time to head to the Science Museum of Minnesota. It is such an incredible experience - and your kids will LOVE exploring, learning, and playing with all of the hands-on activities that are available.

For more information, please see:


Interested in Exploring Minnesota? It's easy - head to ExploreMinnesota and you'll find a plethora of activities, ideas, places to stay, and more.  We thank ExploreMinnesota for their great help on our recent trip.



Photos courtesy and copyright of Jessie Voigts.


Comments (1)

  • Dominique-Midwe...

    14 years 11 months ago

    The movie theater sounds especially awesome. We've got IMAX several places here in the Detroit area, and that's pretty cool (last IMAX film I saw was a U2 concert flick at The Henry Ford)...but I'd like to see the Omnitheater.

    We've also got a couple of Science centers here...Detroit's and Cranbrook out in Bloomfield Hills.

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