Minnesota History Center

Learn about Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, feel a tornado and hear personal stories from the state’s darkest days of war.

The Minnesota History Center is the state’s most important historical research facility. It’s housed in a striking building with a windmill-like entrance. The center holds thousands of artifacts and has a vast library collection that contains some of Minnesota’s most important documents. Interactive exhibits will help you learn about the history of the state.

At the Then Now Wow exhibit, see exploding dynamite at the iron ore mine or take a streetcar ride through a set that mimics the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This huge exhibit also lets you explore a modern tipi, or 1870s sod house. Take a ride on a boxcar and try your hand at mining before heading further into the center.

The galleries house collections of artifacts and art from the local Dakota Indian tribe and retrace the major historical events of the state. Head to the extensive exhibit on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 to see swords, uniforms and battle flags. Modern-day items include a suit worn by pop star Prince in the 1984 film Purple Rain. The world-famous artist still has a house and recording studio in Minneapolis.

Explore the lives of those who grew up during the Great Depression, experienced World War II and were part of the post-war boom in North America at the Greatest Generation exhibit. Watch film clips in a 1930s-style cinema and see a locally made classic: a 1955 Ford sedan. As well as exhibits, the museum holds special events that range from theater shows to historical talks. Check the website for details.

The Minnesota History Center is located just west of downtown St. Paul, with easy access to the freeway. You pay to park and to enter, but children receive a discount. Enjoy free entry on Tuesday nights. The exhibits are open every day except Mondays and some public holidays.

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