Here’s something for your summer to-do list: pick a Tuesday night between June 30 and August 25 and pencil in a visit to the Minnesota History Center. What’s so special about Tuesdays? They’re very easy on the pocketbook, that’s what. Between the free gallery admission from 5 – 8 p.m. and the summer “9 Nights of Music” program it’s possible for the family to enjoy a complete evening’s worth of entertainment for only a $5 parking fee.
Our family hasn’t yet made it to one of the “9 Nights” (more accurately, one of more than 150 nights of live music hosted by the History Center since the event, now in its 18th year, began). The musical lineup is anything but ordinary; a multicultural mix of performers representing niches in the Twin Cities community. To make sure you’ve got dance moves to match, Tapestry Folkdance Center provides a half hour of instruction prior to the show. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, and pack a picnic dinner or purchase one from the onsite Minnesota Café.
If possible, come early for some admission-free exploration of the History Center’s galleries. Not sure the kids will appreciate the history lesson? Here are a few of my children’s favorite exhibits:
- Then Now Wow is filled with kid-friendly displays including a re-created Iron Range mine, a pioneer sod house and a Twin Cities streetcar.
- In Minnesota’s Greatest Generation the kids like to play at the 1930’s soda fountain, time themselves packing ammunition, and take a simulated WW2 combat flight (warning: it’s fairly realistic).
- The Grainland exhibit allows them to climb up and around a replica grain elevator.
- Weather Permitting takes you safely through a tornado that hit Fridley in 1965 (again: can evoke some jitters in kids when the lights go out).
- Open House: If These Walls Could Talk is a fun, interactive walk through a re-created St. Paul home occupied by immigrants and many nationalities over the years. Make sure to sit on the bed in the bedroom, play lawn games in the backyard, and peek into the attic.
Admission is free to both the special event and the Minnesota History Center from 3 – 8 p.m. Free admission to the exhibits is offered year-round on Tuesday nights.