The Landmark Center is a historical building right in the heart of downtown St. Paul. It was once the federal building for the city which included courtrooms and the post office. Today it is a landmark (ha!) and houses not only the historical information of the building but also many different museums. Each fall through spring, the Landmark hosts Sunday family events, aptly named “Sundays at Landmark”. The 2020-2021 season begins September 20, 2020 with the VIRTUAL Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. The series also includes the Landmark Center’s popular Urban Expeditions (usually starting mid-January), which take you to a different country to experience the culture firsthand for FREE without the need to leave the Twin Cities.
The full 2020/2021 season has not yet been announced. The first two events will be offered as online programs, and we can expect that the rest of the year will be a mix of virtual and limited-capacity, in-person events. Expect to make reservations for any in-person events this year. Most programs begin at 1 pm and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.
- September 20: Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (VIRTUAL*). Online; 12 pm; Free
- October 4: Amelia Earhart – A Presentation by Rob Ellos (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- October 11: Top of the Tower in the North Tower; 1-3 pm; Free (reservations required)
- October 25: Great Pumpkin Festival in the Musser Cortile; 1-3 pm; Free (reservations required, opening October 1)
- November 15: Apollo – A Presentation by Rob Ellos (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- November 29 Holiday Story Series with JB Eckert (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- December 6: Holiday Story Series with JB Eckert (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- Canceled: December 13: (Socially distant) Photos with Santa. Mussser Cortile; 1 pm; Free (reservations required)
- December 20: Holiday Story Series with JB Eckert (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- January 24: Urban Expedition Serbia (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- February 7: Urban Expedition Ghana (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- March 7: Urban Expedition Spain (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- March 28: Urban Expedition Iran (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
- April 11: Urban Expedition Laos (VIRTUAL*). Online; 1 pm; Free
Additional 2021 events may be announced soon.
*Virtual events will remain up at the Landmark’s website for several weeks and on social media indefinitely.
Sundays at Landmark: Urban Expeditions
When we first entered the building, we were greeted with animals native to Argentina: llamas, alpacas, goats, a giant Flemish rabbit, and a big rodent of unpronounceable name. I wasn’t super thrilled with the rodent, but the other animals were adorable. I kept referring to The Emperor’s New Groove for a point of reference for my children.
From the animals, we walked into the Musser Cortile room where the programming was started. Culture presentations and tango demonstrations as well as a folk dance workshop took place here inviting you to have a whole body experience. We sat down to enjoy the dancing only to be asked to stand and participate in the Chacarera (a traditional Argentinian dance).
We learned the baseball move–to go around the diamond, we learned how to run a home run–to turn in a circle, and half of us learned to shine the floor and the other half perfected the baseball move. All the while with our hands in the air. It was hilarious!
When we tired of the dancing activity, we checked out the other activities. They were spread around the entire room. We picked up our passport and got our passport photos taken. The girls made tissue paper flowers to wear in their hair.
I tried an empanada. The girls didn’t think they would like them because they were told they were hot: which ultimately they interpreted as spicy….but they weren’t spicy. They were really good.
And we colored postcards and sent them to our family! REALLY! The Landmark Center mailed them for us. The only problem was that we needed to know the addresses…so Grandma K will be receiving 2 postcards and Grandma F hopefully 1 ( I cannot remember their zip code to save my life).
This whole event was co-presented by the Tango Society of Minnesota (TSOM). For the last hour of the event, dancers from the TSOM performed different tango dances. I’m glad their were other things to do. This part wasn’t as exciting as I was hoping.
Ultimately, the girls loved the tango (and that’s the most important thing), but I don’t think I understand dance enough to be impressed. What I saw was a bunch of couples standing too close to each other to move.
However, I did learn that Argentinian men don’t ask women to dance with their mouths. They ask them to dance with their eyes (oooooh), and if the women don’t want to dance, they avoid eye contact at all cost!
- It wasn’t very busy. There was plenty of room to move around and wasn’t overly crowded.
- The staff/volunteers were very welcoming and kind (minus one who was a little grumpy).
- There was a wide variety of activity and something for everyone to enjoy.
- It was interactive. Learning to dance the Chacarera was especially fun with the engaging gaucho (Argentinian cowboy)
- The other museums are open to enjoy.
- There isn’t a lot of parking right next to the Landmark Center. Since parking was free, every spot on the street was full (not that I’m good at parallel parking anyway, but you may be)
- If you come in the wrong door, you may go through everything backwards. So if you do, just know that if you walk straight, you will run into the correct area to enjoy the festivities.
- We missed the free tour at noon–this would not be a disadvantage for you, but it was for us.
- They hold Urban Expedition in cold winter months in Minnesota. It’s hard to get out the door when it’s that cold. But don’t wait until April because it’s totally worth going, even in the cold!