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12 Best Museums in Minnesota to Visit

Is it culture, history, science, nature, or technology? Where does your interest lie? Well, museums in Minnesota offer information on all these and more. Tour one or two of these museums whenever you are in this great state, 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, it 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 yearly. And it’s not without a good reason.

With its rich and diverse cultural landscape, Minnesota has several museums that will make your decision on a Saturday afternoon challenging. Minnesota museums have more than you can imagine, full of captivating history to satisfy your thirst for history. From the extensive history to the dynamic art scenes featuring local and international artists, these cultural hubs accurately depict Minnesota’s beauty.

Well, with numerous museums in Minnesota, choosing some and leaving others can be challenging. 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

Exterior of the Minnesota History Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Joe Ferrer / Shutterstock

With so many crucial historical events being easily forgotten and lost in time, this museum, managed by the Minnesota Historical Society, plays a significant 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.

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 can get a glimpse of the early Native American settlers in Minnesota, their way of life, and the early industries that formed the foundation of Minnesota’s economy.

This place will quench your curiosity about Minnesota’s people, places, and stories through various exciting exhibits, live performances, and stimulating discovery programs. 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, allowing 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: Things to Do in Two Harbors

2. Walker Art Center

Walker Art Center
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Want to know a fun fact about me? I love this museum so much that I had my wedding here in 2017. Good times, this museum is 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, and this is the perfect spot if you are an art lover.

While the center offers many different arts, from sculpture and visual paintings to public performances, the building’s architectural design is also fascinating. When you are not exploring the fantastic art pieces 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 the 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 encountered numerous art collections over the years, the art here will redefine your perspective. Located at 1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN, you can’t afford to miss a tour of this fantastic museum.

See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks to Visit

3. Bell Museum of Natural History

Bell Museum of Natural History

As Minnesota prides itself on its diverse habitats, lush forests, and flowing rivers, the Bell Museum offers the ideal place to teach and celebrate its natural history.

It’s an excellent place for visitors to connect with nature, wildlife, and the entire ecosystem that flourished centuries before the current skylines.

If you wish complete 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 worldwide, collecting research and information to help you understand how past natural systems worked.

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

Situated at 2088 Larpenteur Ave West, Saint Paul, MN 55113, this museum is a perfect tourist site for you and your family. So, if you want to tour the museums, plan one that includes this museum in your attractions.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

4. Science Museum Of Minnesota

Entrance to the Science Museum of Minnesota
EWY Media / Shutterstock.com

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 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 mind.

This means that, despite where your interests gravitate towards, you’ll still find something unique and exciting 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, located in St. Paul, one of the members of the Twin Cities, offers numerous things to do, see, and learn.

Plus, the museum has a fantastic Omnitheater, arguably one of the best in America. The theater is a source of incredible films focusing on essential life topics. Whether it’s for you or your family, the museum covers you.

See Related: Best Minnesota Family Vacations

5. Minneapolis Institute of Art

Aerial View of Minneapolis Institute of Art
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you are looking for a place that houses a global collection of art, 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 complete travel guide to this museum from our YouTube channel.

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. This helps to showcase the immense artistic wealth of local artists. While touring the unique collection or special exhibits, you’ll also get an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline.

See Related: Best Breakfasts in Minnesota

6. The Museum of Russian Art

Inside The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Museum of Russian Art is desirable, from its stunning wall displays to its towering ceilings. This Minneapolis-based museum is the only one of its kind in North America. The museum concentrates solely on displaying Russian art and artifacts. If you’re an art aficionado, you know that art from Russia hardly makes it out of the country, so to have a museum filled solely with Russian art is a big deal.

The Russian art and culture displayed in this gallery allow you to connect to their products and 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.

The Museum of Russian Art sits in a building that once hosted the Mayflower Church. The church building was built in a “Spanish Colonial-Revival style.” Its small size makes it even more ideal for a quick one-day tour. You can quickly peruse its entire collection and gallery in the 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 resident.

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

7. Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Exterior of Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona
Linda McKusick / Shutterstock

The museum, one of the best few museums in Winona, Minnesota, offers an amazingly eclectic collection of work. This includes work from iconic artists such as Chagall, Van Gogh, Claude, Monet, Audobon, O’Keefe, and Pablo Picasso.

The museum, known for its marine arts, is a real hidden gem encompassing skills 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 fantastic 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 excellent museum is run by the United States “Army Corps of Engineers.” The museum building and its land belong to the US federal government.

Located in Duluth’s Canal Park, overlooking the Duluth-Superior harbor’s entrance, it’s quite a spectacle 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, and they are used to cater to the maintenance of the building, staffing, and acquisition of new exhibits. The museum offers a rich history of Maritime travel, the formation of the Great Lakes, activities of the “Army Corps of Engineers,” and the process of a ship’s construction.

This place is a source of great information about the Great Lakes and its shipping history from the era of wooden ships. If you are staying the night in town, book one of these best hotels in Duluth to ensure you enjoy your stay.

See Related: 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 other architectural styles.

Starting with a simple collection by Earl Bakken, this museum has grown tremendously to become one of Minnesota’s best and most stocked stores. Earl Bakken was an enthusiast of historical and scientific tools and accumulated extensive scientific books.

This museum hosts many programs, such as Frankenstein’s Laboratory, a twelve-minute show that helps bring Frankenstein’s tale to life, and Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party, which gives visitors a clear insight into how electricity works.

Also, don’t forget to check out their gardens, including the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden, the “Green Energy Art Garden, and The Dakota Native Plants Garden, which encompasses the wetlands region east of the museum.

See Related: Best Weekend Getaways in Minnesota

10. American Swedish Institute (ASI)

American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota
EQRoy / Shutterstock

One effective way of understanding the Scandinavian side of Minnesotan history is through a tour of this fantastic museum. American Swedish Institute and the museum sits in a stunning castle-like building 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 Swedish culture, it also provides music and other multiple activities that record cultures from different backgrounds and nationalities. Here, you can enjoy contemporary and performing arts, taste Nordic cuisine flavors, or shop for various Nordic gifts.

The ASI museum hosts an annual St. Lucia event during school holidays, making the place ideal for family tours. It also conducts various lessons, from simple activities like weaving to understanding Swedish.

See Related: Best Sites for Booking Tours

11. Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum in Minneapolis
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 flour industry. You’ll also learn a bit about how they work today.

The Mill City Museum is in Minneapolis at 704 S 2nd Street in the Mill District. It has an annual attendance of approximately 165,000 visitors. Admission prices are as follows: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+), and $4 for children (3-12).

This Minneapolis-based institution exhibits what it takes to operate a water-powered grain mill and flour tower and 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: Things to Do in Alexandria

12. Weisman Art Museum

Aerial View of the Weisman Art Museum
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 worldwide, and it has a unique collection of American art.

They have an exciting variation of sculpture art and archival collections that other galleries often overlook. Architecture lovers worldwide come to 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. Bring your camera to take in the stunning views of the river gorge.

Minnesota is undoubtedly one state in the US rich in culture and history. You must see at least one of these places on our list of Minnesota’s top-rated history and art museums.

FAQ

What is the biggest museum in Minnesota?

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