Wander MN: Minnesota Discovery Center

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Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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There’s a lot of history to be found on the Iron Range, and one central place to get a detailed picture of it is at the Minnesota Discovery Center.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

Just outside of Chisholm, the Discovery Center originally opened as the Iron Range Interpretive Center in 1977 and later became known as Ironworld. In 2009, citing public confusion over the name, it became the Minnesota Discovery Center.

Whatever the name, it’s a large and lively repository for all things Iron Range. The recreated immigrant home, above, is part of the gorgeous Heritage Park (home to many weddings in the summer), as is a newer 18-hole mini golf course. There’s an active research center, and the museum itself is full of different aspects of the Range’s history, through interpretive exhibits and artifacts.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

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(credit: Amy Rea)

There are living history areas, where old-time crafts and equipment are being used today.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

There are exhibits detailing the science behind mining, and the history of the people involved in the early days of mining. Many of these have hands-on activities, which make them family friendly and, while I was there, the kids that were visiting were having a great time.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

There’s artwork, both mining-related and not. While I was there, some of the temporary exhibits included photography exhibit by a local group of students and a professional photographer, and a collection of hand-made quilts, and the depth and sophistication of both were wonderful to see.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

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(credit: Amy Rea)

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(credit: Amy Rea)

It was pouring rain the day I was there, which kept me from fully exploring the grounds. But I know from a previous visit that they’re beautiful. During the summer, there’s also the option to take a trolley car through the grounds and to an open pit mine, and there are tours to the mine as well. Thursday nights there’s live music to listen to while exploring the grounds.

This is really the place to start when you visit the Range.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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