It’s May—and this year, that means it’s Minnesota Museums Month, the first—but hopefully not last—annual celebration of all that Minnesota has to offer in the way of museums.
It’s a considerable bounty, with about 600 around the state. I’m guessing you’re at least passingly familiar with the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, the Walker Art Museum, the Weisman, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the History Center in St. Paul. But there are so many other museums to explore, in the Twin Cities and around the state. Here are just a few to consider visiting this month.
The Museum of Russian Art is a small gem just off 35W in Minneapolis. It’s the only North American museum to focus exclusively on Russian artwork, and it offers a frequently changing set of exhibitions and traveling exhibits. The gift shop is beautiful.
The Foshay Museum is tiny, but it’s packed full of details about the life and times of the Foshay Tower. Bonus: access to the observation deck.
Or you can travel south to Austin and take in the SPAM Museum. Trust me, there’s much about SPAM you might not know. Also? Plenty of humor and things for kids to do.
There’s an architectural oddity out in Belle Plaine, at the Hooper-Bowler-Hillstrom House. It’s packed with a variety of antiques and period pieces, but is perhaps best known for its two-story outhouse. Yes, really.
The Iron Range is home to the Greyhound Bus Museum. Not only is a Minnesota company, but it played an important role in WWII.
History is on display all over the place, and featuring all different aspects of the state’s past. The Hinckley Fire Museum covers the horrific firestorm that in just a few short hours devastated the area around Hinckley.
History meets the outdoors at Roseau’s Polaris ATV Experience Center. Snowmobiles and ATVs abound, as well as discussions of their uses and evolutions.
Art is available around the state too, especially in the scenic town of Winona. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is a lovely collection that’s much more diverse than you might guess from the name, and includes pieces by O’Keeffe, Picasso, and Van Gogh.
One of Minnesota’s crabbiest residents is cheerfully feted in Sauk Centre. The Sinclair Lewis Boyhood Home gives visitors a glimpse into the early life of the Nobel Prize-winning author who memorialized the town in his searing Main Street.
It doesn’t get much more Minnesotan—in a cheerful capacity—than the Dorothy Molter Museum in Ely. Molter was the last person to actually live in the Boundary Waters. After her death, her cabin was carefully dismantled, labeled, and brought to Ely and rebuilt, then filled with her belongings. She was known as the Root Beer Lady because she home-brewed root beer for visitors to her remote home. Yes, you can buy root beer at the gift shop. Yes, it’s worth it.