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The Bell Museum of Natural history reopened in mid July of 2018 at its new location across Larpenteur Avenue from Gibbs Farm in St. Paul.
Bell Museum's NEW Planetarium
The new museum will include a 120 seat planetarium with plush reclining seats below a 16-meter aluminum dome. Presentations will be designed to make the viewer feel like they are flying sky and space, inside plants or bodies, or swimming the deep sea. The dome will host featured productions and live presentations.
The following information was originally published by Anne Kingston on April 26, 2013.While the new space was much needed and brings a state-of-the-art updates to the Bell, much of what we originally loved about this museum has been kept. Updated information for the new space has been added in red.
Touch and See Lab at Bell Museum
While this review was written about the old location, the Touch and See Lab is back at the new location. Visitors can use identification guides, magnifying glasses, and other scientific tools to enhance their learning experience.
My children are fairly patient when it comes to looking at things in glass cases. But, like most kids, what they’re really itching to do is get their little fingers on the goods behind the glass. So much learning goes on when a child can feel the texture of an object, examine something from all angles, and formulate questions about what they are holding. The University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History has an entire room dedicated to getting kids up close and personal with objects from the natural world.
Most of these objects are not going to be the sort you can find in your own backyard – unless you’re accustomed to digging up ancient mammoth tusks and elephant skulls, that is. Dozens of drawers around the room hold tinier treasures waiting to be found. Sort through piles of quartz, fossils and petrified wood. My daughters played dress-up with the animal pelts while my son got goofy in a terrarium. Museum staff are eager to strike up conversations with kids about the exhibits and – if you’re brave – take out some living specimens to meet.
Bell Museum Dioramas
The world-famous wildlife dioramas are now on display in the Web of Life Gallery.
Beyond the Touch and See Discovery Room, the venerable Diorama Halls are filled with animals native to Minnesota in beautiful natural habitats. These are the objects in glass cases my children will patiently observe; kid-friendly scavenger hunts and activity guides are available to liven up the lesson.
Bell Museum Free on Sundays I have yet to get to the part of this review where I point out that admission to this family outing at the Bell can be had for FREE most Sundays of the year! This does not include admission to the ExploraDome mini-planetarium show. Ticket information for the ExploraDome and the show schedule can be found here. I highly recommend including the ExploraDome in your budget Sunday fun!
It does not look like Free Sundays are carrying over to the new space. Household memberships start at $95/year. Qualifying families can get a needs-based Curiosity Membership for $15/year. Qualification includes enrollment in several assistance programs - including MinnesotaCare and WIC.
Birthday Parties at the Bell Museum
Birthday Parties resume October 13, 2018. Check back for more information.