St. Paul Bell Natural History Museum

The Bell Museum of Natural History opened its new St. Paul site in 2018 after 140 years in its Minneapolis location. The museum moved from one side of the Twin Cities’ University of Minnesota campus to the other. I attended the Bell Museum in Minneapolis as a child. The previous incarnation of the museum relied a lot on taxidermy to instruct visitors about the natural world. Today that education style is transformed. The new museum is beautiful and expansive with modern exhibits about DNA, habitat and botany that use interactive displays to teach science.

Bell Museum Exterior
Bell Museum Entry

The museum entry photo shows you the curve of the new planetarium cylinder. The previous Bell Museum did not include a star gazing auditorium. When we visited the Planetarium last week, we saw a program interesting to people from 5 to 95. The astronomer pointed out Venus in the night sky replica above our heads and the star Betelgeuse on Orion’s left shoulder. He showed close ups of Neptune’s moons, and a graphic of the warped space around a black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

Afterwards, we toured the natural history exhibits. The new museum has cute, quirky touches, like animal and plant light fixtures:

Much of the natural history portion of the museum is dedicated to life cycles, habitat and the food web. I liked this graphic about prairie plants that shows their root systems which are often deeper than they are tall.

Examples of Prairie Plant Roots

The Bell Museum rocks:

Fossil of an ancient, extinct tree (Lepidodendron) with scaled bark. (300 million years old)
Fossil Horsetail Branches, 300 million years old
Trilobite as large as an adult’s hand from over 250 million years ago

With fossils like those, they could skip the taxidermy altogether, right? Well, mostly. The stuffed polar bear is still looming around (spooky!) On a creative note, the museum hired Blue Rhino Studios to make a lifelike woolly mammoth reproduction. Looking at it I see the artists for the movie Ice Age really got the head shape right (or is it the other way around and the Blue Rhino Studios folks have seen Ice Age?). Either way, I expect to hear the voice of Ray Romano when I see this guy.

Life-sized model of a woolly mammoth (11 feet tall)

In the entry photo second from the top, you’ll see a silver dimple on the right side of the Planetarium exterior. I took a photo there.

Selfie on the mirrored side of the Planetarium exterior.

I highly recommend visiting the Bell Museum. The new facility is well-designed and full of ingeniously presented information. It was a fun outing for all ages. I have this odd memory of the same location in the 1990s when the site simply was a field for the St. Paul agricultural campus. I think the change is good.

What are your favorite museums? What expeditions make you smile?

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! Olé! –Rebecca

See what’s going on at Six Word Saturday!

Rebecca Cuningham

27 thoughts on “St. Paul Bell Natural History Museum

    1. Thanks, Carol Anne. It really was great. We couldn’t convince Eagle to leave, until closing time! Your ears may be burning because my post tomorrow mentions you as one of the five best commenters on Fake Flamenco! Thanks!


  1. Museums are places for family discoveries. About each others’ interests and curiosities and the world around us. It is fun to watch people’s engagement.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Rebecca! That was a great way to take us on a tour of the museum, which is wonderful! I love those trilobites!
    Great pics too!
    All the best,


  3. Wonderful museum photo tour. I love to see museums renew themselves without completely losing their old fashion style. Greetings from Spain and a Great New Year for all of you, dear Rebecca.


    1. I know! They did such a good job of constructing it, I thought it was a mammoth preserved somehow in ice over 4000 years. How did humans ever get hungry enough to have the courage to hunt such an enormous beast?

      Liked by 1 person

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