Science Museum of Minnesota
|Location||120 W. Kellogg Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
The Science Museum of Minnesota is an American museum focused on topics in technology, natural history, physical science, and mathematics education. Founded in 1907 and located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution is staffed by over 500 employees and over 1,600 volunteers. The museum's mission statement is to "turn on the science: realizing the potential of policy makers, educators, and individuals to achieve full civic and economic participation in the world".
The museum was formed during a luncheon in 1906 when Charles W. Ames, a prominent businessman, met with a group and discussed "the intellectual and scientific growth of St. Paul". The museum, originally named the St. Paul Institute of Science and Letters, was first located at the St. Paul Auditorium on Fourth Street. In 1927 the museum moved to Merriam Mansion on Capitol Hill, the former home of Col. John Merriam. This move provided more storage space for exhibits. As the Science Museum continued to outgrow its facilities, it moved to the St. Paul-Ramsey Arts and Sciences Center at 30 East Tenth Street.
In the early 1990s, plans for a new and more modern facility, to be located adjacent to the Mississippi River, were formed. With aid from public funding initiatives, the new museum broke ground on May 1, 1997 and opened on December 11, 1999. During the move, 1.75 million artifacts were transported.
There are a number of exhibits that are always in the museum, including:
- The Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery showcases several real and replicated dinosaur skeletons, as well as many complete and preserved animals. Some highlights include a Triceratops, Diplodocus, Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camptosaurus.
- The Human Body Gallery shows visitors the various tissues, organs, and systems (such as blood or digestion) that make up the human body. Visitors can extract DNA and perform other science experiments in the Cell Lab. There is a mummy on display here, and in Winter 2015 they will feature many cultural artifacts from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. The museum acquired these pieces in 2002 when its original owner Bob McCoy, son of Wilson McCoy, retired and donated the collection.
- The Experiment Gallery allows visitors to explore concepts in physics, math, and physical and earth science with interactive displays.
- The Race: Are We So Different exhibit (Opening October 14th, 2015) is the first national exhibition to tell the stories of race from the biological, cultural, and historical points of view. Combining these perspectives offers an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States. It is in this gallery that an exhibit entitled We Move and We Stay is housed, featuring artifacts and historical content about the Dakota and Ojibwe people.
- The Mississippi River Gallery takes advantage of the Museum's proximity to the river and a National Park to educate visitors about its natural resources. Visitors can learn about the environment and animals of the river. This gallery is also home The Collectors' Corner. Traders, (primarily children), bring in natural artifacts they have found to trade them for points or another artifact. The more information they can discuss about their item, the more points they earn.
- The Big Back Yard is an seasonal outdoor exhibit that contains information and interactive displays on earth science. A mini golf course lets visitors explore erosion, pollution, and water movement up close. The Science House is a zero emission building aimed at educating visitors about renewable energy and energy conservation.
- Science Buzz is an exhibit where you can dig deeper into science headlines. It is constantly changing and has a presence in each gallery of the museum.
The new building has a dual-screen IMAX/Omnimax theater with both a wall screen, for IMAX films and other flat presentations, and a rotatable dome, for viewing Omnitheater films, the first such convertible theater in the northern hemisphere. The counterweights for the system were so massive that they had to be put in place before the rest of the building. The theater boasts "the largest permanently installed electronic cinema projector in the world", an advanced computer system to coordinate the theater's facilities, and a complex sound system to accommodate both viewing formats, according to the website.
The museum has been a leading producer of Omnitheater films, with ten to its credit so far:
- Genesis (1978)
- Living Planet (1979)
- The Great Barrier Reef (1981)
- Darwin on the Galapagos (1983)
- Seasons (1987)
- Ring of Fire (1991)
- Tropical Rainforest (1992)
- Search for the Great Sharks (1995)
- The Greatest Places (1998)
- Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (2002)
The theater was closed for a brief time in early 2014 to repair a leaky roof.
Mississippi River Visitor Center
Inside the lobby of the Science Museum is the National Park Service Visitor Center for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which is open free of charge. Mississippi River exhibits and National Park Rangers are available to help people learn about and experience the Mississippi River. The visitor center is also equipped with resources to help plan trips to any of the more than 390 national parks.
The museum houses a collection of over 1.7 million artifacts and objects in its vault, ranging from dinosaur and other animal remains and fossils, preserved animals and plants, and cultural artifacts from extinct and extant civilizations. The collections division maintains a staff of scientists and researchers including paleontologists, archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnologists, and archivists. Researchers visit the vault to take advantage of the unique collection, but it is not open to regular museum visitors.
In addition to the Omnitheater, the museum had a cinema for showing digitally-projected 3-D films. Visitors wore clear polarized glasses to view short films with a vivid 3D effect. The museum also produced films for this medium, beginning with Mars 3D, which features images from the Mars rovers. The theater closed in 2007 after the new format failed to catch on in other markets.
Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center
The museum is associated with the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center, which is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) offsite in Washington County. The center provides natural history education opportunities for all ages on over 600 acres (2.4 km2) of lakes, bogs, woodlands, and grasslands.
Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center
The Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (YSC) is an informal learning environment for young people between 11 and 18 years old. The mission of the KAYSC is to "empower youth to change our world through science". Although there are some volunteers in the KAYSC who are too young for jobs, most of the teens in the KAYSC are actual museum employees, engaging in activities ranging from staffing the Cell Lab on the museum floor to engaging in community activism around urban agriculture and climate change. The teens are guided and mentored in science, technology, work, and life skills by the adult staff.
The museum hosts 3-4 special exhibitions a year, with past exhibitions having included:
- When Crocodiles Ruled (2000)
- Mysteries of Catalhoyuk (2001)
- Playing with Time (2002)
- Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga (2002)
- Robots and Us (2004)
- Seasons of Life and Land (2004)
- Invention at Play (2005)
- Strange Matter (2006)
- Body Worlds (2006)
- Race: Are We So Different? (2007)
- Wild Music (2007)
- A Day in Pompeii (2007)
- Deadly Medicine (2008)
- Animation (2008)
- Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination (2008)
- CSI: The Experience (2008)
- Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear (2009)
- Water (2009)
- Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition (2009)
- The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World (2010)
- Geometry Playground (2010)
- Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs (2011)
- Identity: An Exhibit of YOU (2011)
- Nature Unleashed (2011)
- Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship (2012)
- Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets Modern Science (2012)
- Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life (2013)
- Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed (2013)
- Ultimate Dinosaurs (2014)
- Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience (2015)
The museum also has an extensive science learning division. In addition to many on-site youth and family classes, day camps, and summer camps, museum programs are also hosted at various schools throughout the region. Day classes and summer camps often involve science, technology, nature, and art themes. Overnight camp-ins let large groups sleep on the exhibit floor and have time to explore the galleries and view an Omnitheater film as a group. The museum is also one of the leading professional development resources for teachers in the state.
- Science Museum of Minnesota - About Us
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