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12 Best Museums in Minnesota: History, Culture, and Art

12 Best Museums in Minnesota: History, Culture, and Art

Is it culture, history, science, nature, or technology? Where does your interest lie? Well, museums in Minnesota offer information on all these and more. Whenever you are in this awesome state, take a tour to one or two of these museums, and you’ll not be disappointed.

If there’s one state in the US that guarantees travelers more places to visit and sites to see than they bargained for, is Minnesota.

You can never run short of things to explore in Minnesota.

Museums are one major attraction that brings numerous visitors to this state each year. And it’s not without a good reason.

With its rich and diverse cultural landscape, Minnesota has a number of museums that will make your decision on a Saturday afternoon a tough one.

Full of captivating history, Minnesota museums have more than you can imagine, to satisfy your thirst for history.

From the extensive history to the dynamic art scenes featuring both local and international artists, these cultural hubs total depiction of Minnesota’s beauty.

Well, with numerous museums in Minnesota, it can be quite challenging to choose some and leave others. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you.

We have compiled a list of some of the best museums in Minnesota to help make your afternoon even more exciting.

Best Museums in Minnesota

Let’s get into the top museums in Minnesota to help you explore culture, art, music and so much more.

1. Minnesota History Center

Minnesota History Center

mnhs.org

With so many crucial historical events being easily forgotten and lost in time, this museum managed by the Minnesota Historical Society plays a major role in preserving the culture and history of Minnesota.

Located at 345 W, Kellogg Blvd, S. Paul, the museum represents one of the best museums in downtown St. Paul and Minnesota as a whole.

The entire museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of this great state put on by the Minnesota History Center.

If you are a history enthusiast, then you must get time to visit this place.

Here, you’ll have a first-hand experience of everything that has molded Minnesota into its current incredible state.

You have a chance to get a glimpse of:

  • The early Native American settlers in Minnesota and their way of life
  • Early industries that formed the foundation of Minnesota’s economy
  • The history of Minnesota

Through various exciting exhibits, live performances, and stimulating discovery programs, this place will quench your curiosity about the people, places, and stories of Minnesota.

And, if you want some souvenirs to take home, the museum’s store offers an incredible selection of Minnesota-inspired items such as jewelry, gifts, and books.

Don’t just visit; carry back some long-lasting memories with you. The museum is in a great area of Saint Paul that will allow you ample opportunities to turn this visit into a date night.

Check out these other top things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

See Related: Best Things to do in Two Harbors, Minnesota

2. Walker Art Center

Walker Art Center

This museum has found itself a spot among the top five most visited modern and contemporary art galleries in the United States.

Also, as one of the best art museums in Minneapolis, Walker Art Center attracts thousands of local, national, and international visitors each year. Pair that with the fact that the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is right next door, this is the perfect spot if you are an art lover.

While the center offers a myriad of different arts, from sculpture and visual paintings to public performances, the building’s architectural design is also fascinating.

When you are not exploring the amazing pieces of art inside the museum, you can admire the beauty of the building from the outside as it’s a great place to take pictures in the Twin Cities.

Even better, while outside, you can explore the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; it’s one of the favorite sites for visitors in the city.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is home to “The Cherry and the Spoon,” one of the most iconic sculptures in Minneapolis and most famous landmarks in Minnesota.

And, the juice doesn’t end there!

The amazing shows and presentations, as well as the ever-dynamic exhibits, make it even more fascinating. You’re always sure of something new with each new visit.

While you may have come across numerous art collections over the years, the art here will definitely redefine your perspective of art.

Located at 1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN, taking a tour of this amazing museum is something you can’t afford to miss.

Looking for other things to do while in town? Check out these best things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks to Visit

3. Bell Museum of Natural History

Bell Museum of Natural History

As Minnesota prides itself in its diverse habitats, lush forest, and flowing rivers, the Bell Museum offers the ideal place to teach and celebrate the state’s natural history.

It’s a great place for visitors to connect with nature, wildlife, and the entire ecosystem that flourished hundreds of years before the current skylines.

If you wish to have an unlimited insight into the historical ecosystems, the museum offers you that chance. You can explore multiple dioramas that focus on the world’s natural landscapes.

Scientists here travel all over the world, collecting research and information to help you get a complete picture of how past natural systems worked.

For instance; you can see the various research programs about South American rainforests or the various bird species on the planet.

Situated at 2088 Larpenteur Ave West, Saint Paul, MN 55113, this museum is a perfect tourist site both for you and your family.

So, if you want to take a tour of the museums, make sure to plan one that includes this museum in your attractions to visit.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

4. Science Museum Of Minnesota

Best museums in Minnesota: Science Museum Of Minnesota

researchgate.net

The Science Museum of Minnesota turns science into an interactive and entertaining learning experience. You can spend your entire day here but still not capture everything that the museum offers.

Whether you want to learn about the past or travel into the unknown future, the Science Museum of Minnesota is where you get that chance. Learn about anything, including the structure and composition of your body, and your mind.

This means that, despite where your interests gravitate towards, you’ll still find something unique and interesting there.

And, you don’t have to worry if you have some kids with you, the museum offers unique experiences for visitors in any age group.

Founded in 1907, the Science Museum of Minnesota focuses on various topics in technology, mathematics, and physical science. The museum which is located in St. Paul, one of the members of the Twin Cities, offers numerous things to do, see, and learn.

Plus, the museum has an amazing Omnitheater, which is arguably one of the best in America.

The theater is a source of some incredible films which focus on various essential topics in life. Whether it’s for you or your family, the museum has you covered.

See Related: Best Minnesota Family Vacations

5. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Aerial View of Minneapolis Institute of Art

If you are looking for a place that houses a global collection of arts, then you should book yourself a tour of the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

This is, in fact, one of the most famous museums in the Twin Cities, which receives thousands of visitors each year.

Not only that this art museum is, in my opinion, perennially one of the best art museums in the United States.

Here, you’ll experience the sensational work and permanent collection of famous artists including Van Gogh, Monet, and Matisse. Better still, you can marvel at the ingenious skill used by ancient Romans, to craft complex human body sculptures.

Want a better experience of this art museum in Minneapolis? Check out our full travel guide of this museum from our YouTube channel.

Minneapolis Institute of Art Travel Guide | Arts Tour [4K]
Watch this video on YouTube.

The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s extensive network of hallways makes the experience here even more exciting. For every turn you make, you encounter a new surprise that leaves your mouth agape.

So, if you can’t afford the hassle of traveling around the globe, this museum brings everything to you in a single place. You can, therefore, enjoy all these masterpieces from various cultures, right from a single location (Minneapolis Institute of Art).

The Minneapolis Institute of Art also hosts the popular MAEP(Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program) galleries. These help to showcase the immense artistic wealth of local artists.

While you are touring the unique collection or special exhibits, you’ll also get an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline.

See Related: 19+ Best Breakfasts in Minnesota

6. The Russian Art Museum

Museum of Russian Art

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From its stunning wall displays to its towering ceilings, the Russian Art Museum is a sensual place to be. This Minneapolis-based museum is the only one of its kind in North America. The museum concentrates solely on displaying Russian art and artifacts.

The Russian art and culture displayed in this gallery offer you a chance to connect both to their products and their way of living.

You will interact with some of the popular products, the country has contributed to the world throughout history.

Being in this museum helps you to connect with the struggle, as well as the beauty of the country’s culture. It’s quite a dynamic experience for anyone with an interest in the history of Russia.

TMORA sits in a building, which once hosted the Mayflower Church. The church building was built way back in a “Spanish Colonial-Revival style.”

Its small size makes it even more ideal for a quick one-day tour. You can easily peruse its entire collection and gallery in an afternoon.

This is one of the art museums in Minnesota that you should not miss whether it is on your first visit to the Twin Cities or if you are a local resident.

See Related: Best Things to do in the North Shore, Minnesota

7. Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Museums in Minnesota: Minnesota Marine Art Museum

rivertowns.com

The museum, which is one of the best few museums found in Winona, Minnesota, offers an amazingly eclectic collection of work.

This includes work from various iconic artists such as Chagall, Van Gogh, Claude, Monet, Audobon, O’Keefe, and Pablo Picasso.

It also contains great art pieces such as “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” a masterpiece by the famous Emanuel Luetze.

The museum which is known for its marine arts is a real hidden gem that encompasses arts in various periods and styles.

It features five exceptional art and artifact galleries, including:

  • Marine art
  • Impressionism
  • Hudson River School paintings
  • Folk art sculptures
  • Traveling exhibits

If you happen to be close to Winona, this is a site you wouldn’t want to miss. And while there, make sure to interact with the workers in the museum. They can be a great source of information about the amazing curated collections.

Like what you are hearing? Check out these other top things to do in Winona, Minnesota.

See Related: Best Coffee Shops in Minnesota

8. Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

This is one of the best museums in Duluth, Minnesota. The awesome museum is run by the United States’ “Army Corps of Engineers.”

Both the museum building and the land it rests on, all belong to the US federal government.

Located in Duluth’s Canal Park, overlooking the Duluth-Superior harbor’s entrance, it’s quite a spectacle both for locals and visitors. One great thing about the museum is that it’s open to anyone.

Also, it’s a free museum, charging zero entrance fees.

However, donations are accepted, which are used to cater to the maintenance of the building, staffing, and new exhibits acquisition.

The museum offers a rich history of Maritime travel, the formation of the Great Lakes, activities of the “Army Corps of Engineers,” as well as the process of a ship’s construction.

This place is a source of amazing information about the Great Lakes and its shipping history right from the era of wooden ships.

Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Duluth, MN.

If you are in town and staying the night, be sure to book one of these best hotels in Duluth to ensure you enjoy your stay.

See Related: 13 Best Day Trips from Minneapolis

9. Bakken Museum

Bakken Museum

The Bakken Museum is found at 3537 Zenith Ave. S., Minneapolis on the west coast of Lake Calhoun.

The building itself was the work of Carl Gage, for one William Goodfellow. Its design combines European Gothic Revival, English Tudor, and several other architectural styles.

Starting with simple a collection by Earl Bakken, this museum has grown tremendously to become one of the best, and most stocked in Minnesota.

Earl Bakken was an enthusiast in historical, scientific tools that also saw him accumulate an extensive collection of scientific books.

Currently, this museum hosts a myriad of different types of programs such as:

  • The Frankenstein’s Laboratory, which is a twelve-minute show that helps bring Frankenstein’s tale to life
  • “Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party,” – give visitors a clear insight on how electricity works
  • Other numerous fun, inspiring activities

Also, don’t forget to check out their gardens. There are several of them, including:

  • “Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden”
  • The “Green Energy Art Garden”
  • “The Dakota Native Plants Gardens”- this one encompasses the wetlands region, east of the museum.

A tour without this incredible museum would just be incomplete.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

10. American Swedish Institute (ASI)

American Swedish Institute

asimn.org

One effective way of understanding the Scandinavian side of Minnesotan history is through a tour of this amazing museum.

American Swedish Institute and the museum sits in a stunning castle-like building, which was designed and built in the early 20th century, by a Swedish family.

Its design mainly comprises elaborate woodwork, complete with stained glass. And, even before you experience what is inside the museum, the entire structure itself is a cultural sensation.

While the ASI offers exhibitions exploring the Swedish culture, it also offers music and other multiple activities that record cultures from other backgrounds and nationalities.

Here, you can enjoy both contemporary and performing arts, taste the different Nordic cuisine flavors, or shop for various Nordic gifts.

During school holidays, the ASI museum hosts an annual St. Lucia event which makes the place ideal for family tours.

It also conducts various lessons, right from learning simple activities like weaving, to understanding the Swedish language.

See Related: 4 Top Sites for Booking Tours

11. Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum in Minneapolis

Mill City Museum’s core purpose is to show the importance of mills and milling to Minnesota’s economy and culture. At one point, this was the world’s largest flour mill.

This Minnesota museum showcases how mills and milling shaped the Twin Cities and the entire flour industry. You’ll also learn a bit about how they work today.

The Mill City Museum is located in Minneapolis on 704 S 2nd Street in the Mill District. It has an annual attendance of approximately 165,000 visitors. Admission prices are as follows: $8-adult; $7-senior (65+); $4-child (3-12).

This Minneapolis-based institution exhibits what it takes to operate a water-powered grain mill and flour tower, as well as the simplicity of grinding flour by hand.

This museum highlights the impact of mills on Minnesota’s history and is consistently rated as one of the best history museums in Minnesota.

See Related: Best Things to do in Alexandria, Minnesota

12. Weisman Art Museum

Aerial View of the Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum located in Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of the best art museums in the state. The museum has a collection of different pieces from different artists all around the world with a special collection of American art.

They have an interesting variation of sculpture art and archival collections that are often overlooked by other galleries.

Architecture lovers from around the world come to simply photograph this iconic building designed by legendary Frank Gehry.

Weisman Art Museum is located on the banks of the Mississippi River right on the University of Minnesota campus so bring your camera to take in the stunning views of the river gorge.

Minnesota is undoubtedly one state in the US that is rich both in culture and history.

You must see at least one of these places on our list of top-rated history and art museums in Minnesota.

Make your visit to any of the cities here, worth your stay.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Minnesota

FAQ

What is the biggest museum in Minnesota?

The biggest and most well-known museum in Minnesota is the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Others worth considering include The Science Museum of Minnesota, Children’s Theatre Company, Weisman Art Museum, and the Minnesota History Center. The museums in Minnesota are incredible.

How many museums are in MN?

There are over 40 excellent museums in Minnesota.

What is the biggest art museum in Minnesota?

The largest art museum in Minnesota is the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which has a collection of more than 100,000 objects.

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