Family Fun Directory

Minnesota History Center

» Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55102
Admission: $ 12.00
$12 adults; $10 seniors and college students w/ID; $10 active military w/ID; $6 children ages 5-17; Free Tuesdays 5-8 pm; Free for children age 4 and under and MNHS members; Free to visit the library
Concessions Available
Hours of Operation:
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10:00 AM - 08:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM - 05:00 PM

Being able to chaperone my kids' field trips is a convenient way to get around the Twin Cities and see what there is to offer. Last year, I was able to go to a lot of different places. Just a few weeks ago, I was able to accompany a gaggle of 2nd graders to the Minnesota History Center. It is located in St. Paul overlooking both the capitol building and the rest of the city.  The Minnesota History Center is full of exhibits built for the whole family to enjoy with many hands on activities--soda fountain, ammunition assembly line, airplane staircase, wind machine and weather vanes, a house to explore and touch--and loads of information for adults to digest.

Inside the History Center, there is an entire library--the Gale Family Library-- dedicated to the history of Minnesota, Minnesota family history and lineage.  If you are interested in learning about your family or doing a research project, this library is a great resource.  There is no fee to use the library.  Keep in mind that the library is non-circulating, so you can't check the information out and return it.

Current  and Upcoming Exhibits at Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota History Center's exhibits include on-going exhibits and  featured exhibits. Current exhibits include:

Gridiron Glory at Minnesota History Center

Pro Football Hall of Fame Artifacts
still lifes
Canton, OH 10-MAY-2005
X73519 take 1
CREDIT: Courtesy Pro Football Hall of Fame

Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame 

Sept. 24, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017
Half-time Tuesday: Visitors can save up to 50% off tickets on Tuesdays in November. Purchase tickets online, in person, or by calling the History Center box office.

This feature exhibit has been organized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It includes more than 200 artifacts, photos and rare documents, footage from the NFL Film archives and interactive experiences. There is a hometown heroes section featuring the Vikings, including a section devoted to the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp, where visitors can work on their vertical leap, broad jump, kicking and passing games.

Minnesota History Center

Then Now Wow opened in early 2014.  Here is a list of what it features.
  • Ride a Twin Cities streetcar and peek out the windows as different times and places go by.
  • Descend underground into an Iron Range mine and drill the ore.
  • Sit in a modern tipi and learn about Dakota history and culture through Bobby Wilson’s poetry and visual art.
  • Visit a pioneer family and imagine what life was like in an 1870s sod house.
  • Hitch a ride on a Soo Line boxcar through Southwestern Minnesota and learn about the history of the area through original music by Charlie Parr.
  • Learn about the fur trade from the perspective of its main commodity, the beaver.
  • See the emergency exit door from the school bus involved in the I-35W bridge collapse signed by all the children and adults aboard the bus.
  • Encounter more artifacts and images unique to Minnesota’s diverse people and historic events.

Minnesota History CenterThe Grainland exhibit is a very fun interactive exhibit where you get to be a kernel of grain and experience the inside of a working Grain Elevator.


Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History CenterLearn about the extreme weather of Minnesota including the coldest and hottest temperatures.  Experience the tornado of 1968--whoa!  It's quite a fun "ride" for kids!  (and this adult)

The Greatest GenerationMinnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History CenterExplore what life was like during the 1930's and 1940's by experiencing the picture show, assembling ammunition, working as a soda jerk, checking out displays of that time, and taking a "ride" in a C47 on June 6, 1944 during the Invasion of Normandy. with the paratroopers in World War II.  That is intense and very sad.  Many of the adults in the aircraft were choked up.  There is a little language in this presentation.  Just to be aware.

Minnesota History CenterOpen HouseMinnesota History Center

Explore how one house in St. Paul was lived in at different times with families of different ethnicities: German, Italian, African, and Hmong.Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center

Image Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center

Image Courtesy of the Minnesota History Center - scan from original on Epson 11000XL scanner

Coming February 18, 2017 to July 30, 2017

Penumbra Theatre at 40: Art, Race and a Nation on Stage

Discover Penumbra. For 40 years, Penumbra Theatre has ignited social change through art grounded in the African American experience.

Timed to open during Black History Month, this exhibit will help visitors gain a greater understanding of African American artistic expression. Through firsthand accounts, artifacts and immersive settings, visitors will get an introduction to Penumbra Theatre’s efforts to inspire, educate and reflect the pride and perseverance of the communities whose stories it tells.


Coming April 8, 2017 - September 4, 2017
WW1 America

The World War I era—1914 to 1919—was a transformational time for America. The nation emerged as a confident global superpower while deep divisions and conflict at home threatened to tear the nation apart. Through original artifacts, images, voices, music, interactives and multimedia presentations, “WW1 America” will tell the extraordinary stories of Americans—both the legendary and the unsung—who made history during this turbulent era. This exhibit is created by the Minnesota Historical Society in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the National World War One Museum, the Oakland Museum of California and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. It will open at the History Center in April 2017 on the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI. After its opening run, the exhibit will begin a three-year tour to premier historical museums around the country. (5,000 sq. ft.)

Coming Mid Sept., 2017 - Early Jan., 2018
AMVETS Post #5: Photographs by Xavier Tavera

A portrait exhibit by photographer Xavier Tavera of Mexican and Mexican-American military veterans who have returned to live in St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood. The portraits are not meant to romanticize veterans as war heroes but rather to tell their stories as men and women coming back from conflict. Many struggled with reintegration into society as they faced racism and apathy after returning home from the battlefield. The portraits serve as a reminder of their contributions and struggles. (1,600 sq. ft.)

Coming Late Oct., 2017 - Early Jan., 2018
Native American Artist-in-Residence Exhibit (name is tentative)

View works by American Indian artists from the Upper Midwest who spent six months in residence exploring the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. The residency program was designed to revive the study of technique, knowledge and lifeways associated with traditional forms of American Indian artistry. The artists produced original beadwork, birch bark and textile pieces that will be on display. (900 sq. ft.)

Coming Mid Oct., 2017 - Late Feb., 2018
The 1968 Exhibit
The social forces that swirled through the turbulent 1960s crested in 1968. It was a turning point for a generation coming of age and a nation at war. This exhibit returns to Minnesota after touring the nation. This exhibit is created by the Minnesota Historical Society, in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, the Chicago History Museum and the Oakland Museum of California. (5,000 sq. ft.)

Different architecture Elements of the Minnesota History Center:

A picture perfect view of the Minnesota State Capitol Building.Minnesota History CenterThe Star on the ceiling made of perfect M's for MinnesotaMinnesota History Center
The Curtis JN-4 "Jenny" hanging from the ceilingMinnesota History Center

And if you just want to run around to blow off some steam, check out the plaza outside on the 2nd floor!

Minnesota History Center

I would give this place a 2 thumbs up.  It's a lot of fun and incredibly interactive.  The MN History Center does a fantastic job of letting you experience history.


*some images are courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society, used with permission

This article originally published by Gianna Kordatzky - February 11, 2014

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