The Largest Minnesota History Center Exhibit … Ever
By Joel Schettler
"Then Now Wow" is a new exhibit made especially for children at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul that highlights the moments that have shaped our state. "Wow" might be one way to describe the exhibit itself when it opens on November 23; at more than 14,000 square feet, it will be the largest exhibit the Minnesota Historical Society has ever presented.
"Then Now Wow" explores Minnesota's culture, people, and regions both past and present through hands-on, interactive exhibits, organized into three distinct regions: the prairies, the forests, and the cities. Within each area, the exhibit uses many multi-sensory storytelling devices to present ideas about Minnesota's immigration, transportation, family life, natural resources, and industries such as mining and fur trade. Want to learn about Minnesota agriculture? Young visitors can trace the journey of wheat and corn by climbing into a grain elevator and sliding through the chutes. Don a headlamp and "descend" into a mine to work your way through tasks like finding, drilling, and dynamiting ore.
Other visitor experiences include a multimedia Soo Line boxcar in "the prairies," a full-scale replica of a 29-foot-long birch bark voyageur North Canoe in "the forests," and a Twin Cities streetcar that "travels through time" along University Avenue in "the cities" exhibit. Or view one of the actual Mississippi River headwaters monuments that once stood where the Mississippi begins in Lake Itasca Park. Each display engages a child's senses while telling the rich history of our state.
On opening weekend, Nov. 23 & 24, a two-day family program kicks off the exhibit, featuring live performances by Charlie Parr, storytelling events, dancing, hands-on crafts, and even photo ops with Paul Bunyan.
Admission to "Then Now Wow" is included with the regular History Center admission: $11, adults; $9 seniors and college students; $6 for children ages 6 to 17; free for children under age 5 and Minnesota Historical Society members.
The Minnesota History Center
345 Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (free admission, Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays
Noon to 5 p.m. Sundays