A Guide to Exhibits at the Minnesota History Center – Saint Paul, Minnesota – 05/29/2018

Minnesota History CenterSaint Paul, Minnesota

The Minnesota History Center, located in the Capital City of Saint Paul, Minnesota, offers exhibit after exhibit of hands on activities for kids to learn about the history, culture, weather, and people of this fabulous state!

We’ve broken down our albums to focus on each exhibit! Click on any of the following links to explore our albums for each exhibit!

Click on any other links you see to learn more about each item!

Main Album Page: A SPGFAN Guide to Exhibits at the Minnesota History Center

The Three Main Permanent Exhibit Halls in the Minnesota History Center are:

Minnesota’s Greatest Generation

Board a C-47 and join a combat flight on D-Day, get behind the counter of a 1930s soda fountain, view classic film clips in a Vaudeville Theater, pack WWII ammunition shells, and step into the stories of an inspiring generation.

Weather Permitting

Ride out the 1965 Fridley tornado in a basement, learn about the Minneapolis Weatherball, play with the power of wind, and discover how Minnesotans have coped with the weather’s highs and lows.

Then Now Wow

Blast for iron ore, crawl into a tipi, plow a field, visit a sod home, board a street car, trade at the fur post, sing in a box car, discover all the parts of a buffalo, and so much more in this action-packed exhibit. Fun for kids of all ages!

In the Then Now Wow Hall, there are several different vignettes that offer fun, hands-on activities for the kids to truly become one with the Minnesotan people over its different generations on the timeline.

These Specific Exhibits Include:

The Bison

The bison is the largest land animal in North America. For centuries, Native Americans hunted it for food. They also carved horns and hooves into spoons and cups, used the bladder as a carrying sack, turned shoulder bones into hoes, used the hide for clothes and shelter, and laced rib bones together to make a sled.

Wow! Kids can see how the bison was like a walking grocery store by scanning parts at a checkout counter. Then step inside a modern tipi and learn Dakota history and culture from poet/artist Bobby Wilson.

The Fur Trade

Beaver hats were popular across Europe from 1550-1850 because the soft yet resilient fur could be easily felted and pressed into hat shapes, including the familiar top hat. Demand eventually drove the animal to near-extinction, helping to bring an end to the fur trade. Thankfully, silk hats came into fashion and the beaver survived.

Wow! Kids can touch animal furs, try hauling a 90-lb voyageur pack used during the fur trade, and barter for goods inside a fur post.

The Prairie

The people who moved into the prairies in the last half of the 19th century had to answer questions such as “How do you build a house without trees?” and “What do you do when grasshoppers eat the clothes off your back?” When a grasshopper plague hit Midwestern farms for five summers between 1873-1877, the insects ate crops, wool from live sheep, and clothing off people’s backs. As Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote, they came up quickly: “There was no wind. The grasses were still and the hot air did not stir, but the edge of the cloud came across the sky faster than wind.”

Wow! Kids can visit a sod house and learn about prairie life.

The Iron Range

Minnesota has three iron ranges: Cuyuna, Mesabi, and Vermillion. The Soudan mine, 1884-1962, is the oldest mine in Minnesota (now Soudan Underground Mine State Park) while the Hull-Rust-Mahoning mine in Hibbing was the largest open pit mine in the United States.

Wow! Kids can explore what life was like for Minnesota miners and try their hand at blasting for ore.

The Cities

Rondo, a thriving African American community in St. Paul, was virtually eliminated by construction of the I-94 freeway in the 1960s. From this neighborhood came Toni Stone, the first woman to play major league baseball with the Negro Leagues, and Pilgrim Baptist Church, which was founded in 1863 by former enslaved and free men, women, and children who made their way to Minnesota in search of better lives.

Wow! Kids can walk along Rondo Avenue and visit stores, houses, and churches long gone by. “Travel” on a Twin Cities streetcar to hear and see stories as different eras and places pass by.


Are you soy, or are you corn? You can choose! Experience the ups and downs of being a freshly harvested crop by climbing into a replica grain elevator where bins and chutes are replaced with steps and slides and curving nooks and crannies to explore. Then hop into the vintage 1900 farmer’s wagon loaded with grain for market, or step into an authentic 24-ton Soo Line boxcar. The kid-size twists, turns, and tunnels will keep your little “crops” active while learning about how grain leaves the farm and ends up on your table.

So, click on any album title to see our adventures with each segment on the timeline of Minnesota State History!

And then, of course, to prepare for YOUR visit:

CLICK HERE for a list of current Special Exhibits at the Minnesota History Center!

Check Out Our SPGFAN St. Paul, Minnesota QUIKLIST!

Check Out Our SPGFAN Minneapolis, Minnesota QUIKLIST!

For ALL the Things to Do in Minnesota, CLICK HERE!

See Everything Our Family Has Done in Minnesota!

Click HERE or on Any Photo Below
for Awesome Resources to Teach Minnesota History!

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