Best Small Exhibits In Unexpected Places In The Twin Cities

February 13, 2012 8:28 AM

By Coco Mault

It’s kind of impossible to go anywhere in the cities without bumping into art or a museum display of some sort. By no means is this a problem, of course, but it can be surprising where some of these amusements can be found. The following are three particularly fun and interesting places to visit when there’s only time for a bite-sized outing.

historyofdaytons Best Small Exhibits In Unexpected Places In The Twin Cities

(credit: Coco Mault)

History of Dayton’s and Marshall Fields
12th Floor, Macy’s
700 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 375-2200
Hours: Mon to Sat 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sun 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

It’s been years since Dayton’s changed to Marshall Fields and then to Macy’s, and it’s not too difficult to find locals who still mourn the loss of the beloved Minneapolis department store. For anyone who still needs to be consoled about Dayton’s departing, or just need to understand what all the swooning is about, just make a dash up to the twelfth floor of Macy’s. The lunch rush crowd may be most familiar with this floor, as there is a food court as well as a fancy, old-fangled restaurant called the Oak Grill.

Along the wall near the elevators is a time-line of the department store’s history that includes some interesting photos. An even more in-depth history resides in a large alcove just off this main hallway that includes actual items from the early days of Dayton’s. Check out the old water fountain, an architectural mock up of one of the store’s old display areas, old receipts, and read about the glamorous services that were once offered. Be sure to find out why there’s an airplane propeller hanging on the wall, too.

shoeboxgallerynight Best Small Exhibits In Unexpected Places In The Twin Cities


Shoebox Gallery
Window to the right of 2948 Chicago Av S.
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Always on display

Sometimes just being out and about can present a person with an unexpected adventure. A tiny but interesting adventure awaits pedestrians on Chicago Avenue, just a few steps north of Lake Street. Just over 8-feet wide and 7-feet tall, the Shoebox Gallery is always ready for viewers. Exhibitions change regularly, past works include Camphor Group’s “Nite Lite,” in which the artists turned the space into what looked like a giant Lite Brite toy; and “A Small Resurrection of Artpolice, as compiled by Stephen Rife,” an exhibit that allowed viewers to get a glimpse into the history of Artpolice, an underground publication that began in 1974 by Minneapolis artists, including Andy Baird, Frank Gaard, and Stu Mead.

hcmchistorymuseum Best Small Exhibits In Unexpected Places In The Twin Cities

(credit: HCMC History Museum)

Hennepin County Medical Center
HCMC History Museum
Blue Building, Lower Level
701 Park Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Thurs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and by appointment

It is rare to find a museum inside the sterile confines of a busy urban hospital. Sure, there are lobbies and waiting areas with various decorations in all hospitals. There may even be old photos of the hospital or of hospital employees, but the story of a hospital’s history is not usually easily found within the confines of the hospital itself. HCMC, however, has devoted room 226 of the Blue Building’s lower level to its long and interesting past. A narrow, meandering path through the room will take visitors past placards detailing amusing stories, such as why roller skates were used to help maintain muscle tone in patients with femur fractures. There is tile on display from when the original hospital was constructed in 1901, accompanied by a first-hand account of how exactly the tile still exists, and it’s quite tale of adventure. Of course no medical-themed museum would be complete without scary-looking, antiquated medical instruments.

Watch & Listen LIVE