The Twin Cities is home to nearly 60 museums, and because of Bloomington’s central location, by staying here you’ll have a chance to explore all of them. From history and science to art and architecture, these are a few of our favorites.
American Swedish Institute Housed in the historic Turnblad mansion, the former residence of Swedish immigrants, this castle-like structure serves as a place for people to share and learn about the traditions, migrations and arts and crafts of the Nordic culture. Tour the building, see exhibits and performances in the cultural center, or taste the praised cuisine at FIKA.
The Bakken Library and Museum Sitting on a hill above Lake Calhoun in Uptown Minneapolis, this museum features “electrifying” exhibits that explore the mysteries of our electrical world. Kids of all ages will enjoy discovering the mysteries of magnetism through hands-on activities, visiting Frankenstein’s Laboratory, taking a seat at one of Ben Franklin’s electricity parties, and touring the four surrounding gardens.
Bell Museum of Natural History Located on the University of Minnesota Campus, here you can explore the history of life in the natural world through dioramas, hands-on activities and exhibits. The museum is home to the largest scientific collection of specimens—mammals, birds, fish, plants, mollusks and insects—in the world.
Bloomington Center for the Arts Inside the center are two galleries that showcase the work of professional local and regional artists in varying media, styles and genres. The Inez Greenberg Gallery, the larger of the two, features small to large group shows, while the Atrium Gallery hosts smaller exhibits, often by solo artists.
Historic Fort Snelling This former military fort was built in the 1820s and is the state’s oldest surviving building. Located on the bluffs of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, here you can learn what life was like at a U.S. military outpost through historical displays, costumed guides and period activities. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The Goldstein Museum of Design Part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, this museum houses two galleries and a research center, all dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of design. The collection includes apparel, decorative arts, graphic design, furniture, textiles and more.
Mill City Museum Built into the ruins of Washburn A Mill, once the world’s largest flour producer, here you’ll learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry, Mississippi River and city of Minneapolis. Watch the mill’s history unfold on an eight-story Flour Tower elevator ride, learn about Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat, see a mill explode, taste creations in the Baking Lab and meet characters from the past.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts With a collection that boasts names like Monet, Matisse, van Gogh, Rembrandt and Degas, here you’ll find everything from world-famous masterpieces to 40,000-year-old artifacts. These walls hold more than 83,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years and several continents, including prints, photographs, paintings, textiles, sculptures and works in other mediums.
Minnesota Children’s Museum Here young ones are encouraged to crawl, climb and scamper, as the museum was built on the philosophy that there would be no “do not touch” signs. Development, creativity and imagination is promoted through interactive exhibits like Earth World, which immerses you in Minnesota environments, World Works, which encourages investigating and experimenting, and the Rooftop ArtPark’s outdoor gallery.
Minnesota History Center Learn all about the 32nd state here, through permanent and temporary exhibits, concerts, programs and other special events. You can hear the stories of Minnesota’s Greatest Generation, explore our four seasons in Weather Permitting, or discover the “wow” moments that shaped the state in the center’s largest exhibit, Then Now Wow.
The Museum of Russian Art Inside this Spanish colonial-style structure, Russian art and artifacts are preserved. As the only museum of its kind in North America, you’ll learn about Russia’s more than 1,000-year history through a rotation of originally curated exhibitions.
Pavek Museum of Broadcasting Try your hand at tuning a radio from the 1920s (it’s not as easy as it sounds), or produce your own broadcast in an authentic 1960s-era studio. Besides fun and games, the museum also houses one of the finest collections of radio, TV and broadcast equipment in the world.
Science Museum of Minnesota This is a place for curious minds. Dedicated to topics like paleontology, physical science, technology, the human body, and peoples and cultures of the Mississippi River, here you can see one of the world’s only four real mounted Triceratops specimens, take on the role of scientist in the Experiment Gallery, or catch a flick on the giant Omnitheater screen.
Walker Art Center Dubbed “possibly the best contemporary art museum in the U.S.” by Newsweek, the Walker has been a prime spot for modern and contemporary art lovers since it opened as the Upper Midwest’s first public art gallery. The museum’s more than 11,000-piece collection focuses on media, performing and visual arts. During your visit here don’t miss making a stop at the adjacent Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture.
Weisman Art Museum Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, this stainless steel structure won him the Progressive Architecture Design Award. The building, which was named after Minnesota native Fredrick R. Weisman, serves as a teaching museum for the University of Minnesota. The collection includes more than 17,000 works and features early 20th-century American artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Marsden Hartley, as well as a wide selection of ceramics and contemporary art.