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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Bell Museum’s Mammoth Grand Opening July 13-15

Courtesy of the Bell Museum and University of Minnesota

The Bell Museum has a mammoth-sized grand opening weekend set for July 13 to 15. The weekend is made possible by co-presenting sponsors General Mills and McGough Construction, as well as Boston Scientific, Perkins+Will and 3M. All events will be zero waste thanks to the Bell’s partners at University of Minnesota recycling.

The grand opening weekend kicks off Friday, July 13, with an after-hours party featuring St. Paul singer/songwriter Ashley DuBose, DIY art and sketching, planetarium previews, telescope observing, food trucks and more. Saturday and Sunday will feature extended hours, science demos, make-your-own mini-dioramas, water rocket launching, and Dark Matter, the Bell’s custom ice cream made by the U of M’s Food Science and Nutrition department. Additional free events will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday, in the museum’s outdoor Learning Landscape.

The museum has spent nearly three years building a 21st-century facility, restoring world-famous exhibits and developing all-new displays and programs. Premiering along with the museum’s opening is Minnesota in the Cosmos, the first original production in the newly minted Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium, which tells the geological story of Minnesota. The 120-seat digital planetarium is the first of its kind in the world, using the latest innovations to create a “seamless” dome projection surface.

All new exhibition spaces cover broad scientific concepts from cellular to cosmic levels, inviting visitors to explore our place in space and time. A thrilling new addition to the permanent exhibits, and a nod to the museum’s legacy as home to some of the finest wildlife dioramas in the world, is the Pleistocene Minnesota diorama. The ice age view of the state features a 24-foot-high glacier, full-scale woolly mammoth and other Minnesota megafauna. Inside the glacier is a theater in which will debut a new documentary by famed Minnesota photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg: Images of Home: Jim Brandenburg’s Minnesota.

Bell Museum mainstays, including Francis Lee Jaques dioramas and Touch & See Lab, will be back and better than ever. The Touch & See Lab, the first natural history discovery room in the world, is celebrating 50 years of active learning and sensory engagement in a revitalized space that nestles live insects, reptiles and other animals with all new hands-on activities, a live plant wall, and Collections Cove which houses an extensive educational collection of over 4,000 specimens.

The Bell Museum strives to make its facility and events accessible to all. Audio description, ASL interpretation or other accommodations can be arranged with a two-week notice. For additional information or to request an accommodation, contact the accessibility office at 612-624-4268.

Cost: Tickets for the Friday night party ($40) as well as gallery admissions and planetarium show tickets for Saturday and Sunday (prices vary) are available for purchase at 612-626-9660 or online at Location: 2088 Larpenteur Ave. W, St. Paul. It is advisable to review parking options in advance and plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your planetarium show time.

Read the full July 2021 Magazine