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The Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul

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Diplodocus and Stegosaurus at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Diplodocus and Stegosaurus at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Clara James
The Science Museum of Minnesota is a large museum of science and technology on the bank of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul.

The Science Museum takes full advantage of it's wonderful location on the river. Guests enter on the top floor, which is actually at street level in downtown St. Paul, and from there the galleries extend downwards towards the river. A large, light-filled atrium in the center of the museum displays dinosaur skeletons and scientifically inspired artworks against the river view.

Galleries on three floors exhibit the museum's large paleontology, anthropology, and natural history collections, and many interactive displays demonstrate mathematical, electrical, light and weather phenomena.

Permanent Collections

Mississippi River Gallery The Science Museum pays tribute to the mighty Mississippi in the first gallery. Exhibits include a diorama of Mississippi flora and fauna, the original marker from the source of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and a real river tugboat perched on the roof.

Dinosaurs The dinosaur gallery is hugely popular. The Science Museum has one of the largest paleontology collections in the world, with a roll-call of all the famous dinosaurs: Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus and more. Fossils range from mighty to microscopic, beautiful to... well, dinosaur poop.

Electricity and Light This section does an admirable job of turning a rather unexciting area of science into something interesting with elegant displays and instruments demonstrating electromagnetic phenomena.

Weather In this hands-on gallery, ingenious machines make clouds, simulate weather fronts, sand dunes, tornados, waves, and more.

Collections Gallery This gallery could be a whole museum in itself. There's animals from the upper Midwest, plus one gorilla, an ex-resident of Como Zoo. Anthropology exhibits include a Hmong house, and there's a selection of questionable medical devices.

The Human Body Gallery This galley explores how our bodies work. Blood flow, cell biology, disease, and DNA are explained with super-sized models and hands-on activities.

The Big Back Yard Open seasonally, the Big Back Yard garden has a science-themed mini golf course, a maze, water tables, and a stream for visitors to pan for gemstones and fossils.

The Omnitheater

The Omnitheater - the Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater to be exact - shows incredible educational films inspired by the natural world on a giant screen. The films change every couple of months, and there is usually a couple to choose from at any one time.

There is a charge for Omnitheater shows. Admission to the Omnitheater is separate to general museum admission, it is not necessary to visit the museum to see an Omnitheater show.

Special Exhibitions at the Science Museum

Usually two major travelling exhibitions are on show at the museum, making repeat trips very worthwhile. Entrance to the special exhibitions is usually included in the price of admission.

Special Events at the Science Museum

The museum has weekly senior days and pre-schooler days. There are also frequent lectures, classes and special events.

Visiting the Science Museum

Who would enjoy the Science Museum of Minnesota?

Children as young as two enjoy seeing the dinosaurs, and pressing all the buttons. As for actually appreciating the science, the displays are aimed at children six and up. Many exhibits have higher-level concepts geared for teenagers and older students.

The Omnitheater shows are usually suitable for all ages, except the very young.

Location

120 West Kellogg Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55102
Telephone 651-221-9444

Parking

The entrance to the Science Museum's parking ramp is at the level of the river, and not-at-all obvious how to get to it. There's a couple of other parking ramps on Kellogg Boulevard right next to the museum, but they are not for museum guests. Follow the directions for Science Museum Parking at the museum's website. There is a charge for parking, ask for a parking coupon at the admissions desk.

Public Transportation

The nearest bus routes to the Museum pass through downtown St. Paul, two or three blocks to the north or east.

Food at the Science Museum

There are three cafes at the museum. There's a Caribou coffee shop in the lobby, the Chomp kid-friendly eatery in the dinosaur gallery, and the Elements Café on the top floor with the best view of the Mississippi in town.

There are picnic tables in the Big Back Yard.

Shopping at the Science Museum

A well-stocked store in the lobby sells scientific-themed gifts, toys, mini-experiments, Minnesota souvenirs, and Science Museum merchandise.

The Science Museum of Minnesota's Website
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