Preserving historical artifacts and landmarks is important to Minnesotans. These are a few of the more significant museums and landmarks sprinkled throughout Minnesota that have received national attention.
- The Bakken Museum (Minneapolis, MN)
The world’s only museum and library devoted primarily to the use of electricity in the medical and science fields. The Bakken educates visitors about the history of electricity and electromagnetism from 1200 A. D. to the present. Created and named after Medtronic Co-Founder, Earl Bakken.
- Dorothy Molter Museum (Ely, MN)
Dorothy Molter lived alone in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) for 56 years, 15 miles from the nearest road and just yards from the Canadian border. Her island home became a popular destination for canoeists in the summer and she offered them homemade root beer, thus becoming “The Root Beer Lady”. This museum contains her original cabins and a history of her life in the BWCAW.
- First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry (Minneapolis, MN)
This is the live music capital of the Twin Cities. Since 1970, First Avenue has played host to Pop, Blues, R&B and Alternative groups from all around the country. It was originally the main Northland-Greyhound Bus Depot, but was converted to a live rock music emporium and called “The Depot”. First Avenue remains a vibrant and active music venue for all types of music and events.
- First National Bank of Northfield (Northfield, MN)
On September 7, 1876, eight notorious outlaws including Jesse James, his brother Frank, and the Younger brothers, Cole, James and Robert, came to Northfield, MN with the intention of raiding the bank. The First National Bank of Northfield was then considered the biggest bank west of the Mississippi. Only Frank and Jesse James escaped alive. The event is recreated during the “Defeat of Jesse James Days”, which is held the weekend after Labor Day.
- Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis, MN)
Designed by world reknown architect Frank Gehry. The architecture of the Weisman is of a Expressionist Modern style, with a stainless steel skin of abstract cuboid and curvaceous forms. Similar to Gerhy’s other work like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The Weisman is home to a large number American Modernism pieces by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Milton Avery, Charles Biederman, Charles Demuth, the Ash Can (or Ashcan) School, and more.
- Glensheen Mansion (Duluth, MN)
Built by mining magnate Chester Adgate Congdon who was considered the richest man in Minnesota upon his death in 1916. It is sometimes referred to as Glensheen Historic Estate. Originally set on 22 acres of Lake Superior’s shoreline, it has 39 rooms and 27,000 square feet of living space. It was completed in 1908. Glensheen is also the site of the infamous murders of heiress Elisabeth Congdon and her nurse, Velma Pietila, on June 27, 1977.
- Gopher Ordnance Works (Rosemount, MN)
A WWII factory built to produce “smokeless powder”, the basic propellant for American military ordnance during WWII. Between 1942-1943 the U.S. War Department acquired about 12,000 acres of farmland for the construction of 856 new buildings at a cost of about $124 million dollars. The plant was only in production from January to October 1945. A few of the buildings, smoke stacks and structures still exist today and can be seen from a distance.
- Greyhound Bus Museum (Hibbing, MN)
Yes indeed. Minnesota is home to the world’s only Greyhound Bus Museum. Why you may ask? Well, it’ simple… Minnesota was home to Greyhound Bus. Greyhound originally started out as a transportation system in Hibbing, MN that took miners to their mining destinations in Northern Minnesota, on a daily basis. The original company went through a different owners, but eventually became known as Greyhound Bus.
- Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
The Guthrie Theater opened in 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the theater’s founder. In 1982, the theater received the Regional Theatre Tony Award for its contribution to American Theater. The first building (1963-2006) was designed by architect Ralph Rapson. The design for the second building was done by world reknown architect Jean Nouvel, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect.
- Hjemkomst Viking Ship (Moorhead, MN)
A full scale Viking burial ship modeled on one that was unearthed near Sandefjord, Norway in 1880. This replica ship was used to sail 6100 miles (72 days) from Duluth, MN to Bergen, Norway in 1982. It was built by Robert Asp between 1974-1980 to fulfill his dream of building a Viking ship and sailing it to Oslo Norway.
- Hopperstad Stave Church Replica (Moorhead, MN)
Norwegian Stave churches were built just after the close of the Viking Age in Scandinavia in the 1100 and 1200’s. The technique of using vertical posts-or staves- had been modified over time to become wooden architectural works of art. The church in Moorhead is a full-scale replica of the Hopperstad Church located in the town of Vik, Norway.
- Judy Garland Museum (Grand Rapids, MN)
Adjacent to the restored home where Judy grew up. Some of the more unusual exhibits include the Wizard of Oz Carriage – The carriage that brought Dorothy, and her companions, on the final leg of their journey to see the Wizard. Unfortunately, a pair of her Ruby Red Slippers that were worn in The Wizard of Oz were stolen from this museum a few years ago.
- Kensington Runestone Museum (Alexandria, MN)
Certainly one of Minnesota’s most intriguing archealogical mysteries. The Kensington Runestone has lead researchers from around the world on a quest to explain how a runic artifact, dated 1362, could show up in the middle of North America, just outside of Alexandria, MN. It has been studied exhaustively by scholars, some who feel that it’s authentic and was created by Viking explorers in 1362. This well before the “discovery of America” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
- Mall of America (Bloomington, MN)
Mall of America (MOA) is the largest retail shopping mall in the United States. It has over 520 stores, 50 restaurants and attractions like Nickelodeon Universe®, the nation’s largest Nickelodeon® theme park with 24 amusement park rides and a 1.2 million-gallon aquarium. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, attracting more than 40 million visitors annually.
- Mary Tyler Moore House (Minneapolis, MN)
Located at 2104 Kenwood Parkway in the Kenwood area of Minneapolis, this Victorian home was built in 1892. It was featured prominently in the opening credits of the 1970s sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The set design of the show features the three windows that can also be seen from the outside.
- Mill City Museum (Minneapolis, MN)
Beginning in 1880, and for 50 years thereafter, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World” and more informally, as the “Mill City”. Built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, the Mill City Museum is located on the historic Mississippi Riverfront. Visitors learn about the intertwined histories of the flour industry, the river, and the city of Minneapolis.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (Minneapolis, MN)
Part of the Minneapolis Park System and Walker Art Center, this 11-acre site located next to the Walker Art Center showcases more than 40 works from the Walker Art Center’s renowned collection.
- Museum of Broadcasting (St. Louis Park, MN)
One of the best-kept secrets in the Twin Cities, the Museum of Broadcasting houses one of the world’s finest collections of antique radio, television, and broadcast equipment. Opened in 1988, it was co-founded by Earl Bakken, the inventor of the wearable pacemaker.
- Red Wing Shoe Museum (Red Wing, MN)
Home to the World’s Largest Boot. According to Roadside America, the boot spends most of its time indoors, making outdoor appearances for parades and special events. The boot is a size 638 1/2 D. It is located in downtown Red Wing at the new Red Wing store and museum.
- R. W. Lindholm Service Station (Cloquet, MN)
The only service station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was commissioned by local Cloquet resident R.W. Lindholm in 1956, after Wright had completed the design and built the Lindholm residence (called Mantyla) just outside of Cloquet. Still in operation, this station is located at the corner of Minnesota State Highway 33 and Minnesota State Highway 45 in downtown Cloquet.
- Southdale Center (Edina, MN)
The first fully enclosed shopping mall in the world. Built in 1956, it was designed by Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen. His design basically turned a traditional street facing store front, inside-out. Gruen’s design also provided a natural, light-filled interior that he called the “Garden Court of Perpetual Spring” – a large open space with a goldfish pond and bird aviary, sculptures, and a sidewalk café. It was commissioned by local retailer Dayton’s who would be one the anchor stores. It is also known as Southdale Shopping Mall.
- Split Rock Lighthouse (Two Harbors, MN)
Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of Minnesota’s most recognizable landmarks. It was built in 1910 after several shipwrecks occurred during a mighty 1905 November storm. The lighthouse closed in 1969 after modern navigational equipment made it obsolete. It remains open for tourism and is now a National Historic Landmark.
- Spam® Museum (Austin, MN)
The SPAM® Museum is dedicated to the delicious meat first created at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant in 1937. It’s a fun and informational destination with interactive and educational elements designed for all ages.
- U. S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum (Eveleth, MN)
Located on Hat Trick Avenue in Eveleth, Minn., this museum serves to honor those individuals who have contributed to the sport of hockey in the United States. The Hall has displays and memorabilia depicting the significant contributions of players, coaches, referees and other important figures in the sport.
- World’s Largest Ball of Twine (Darwin, MN)
Started by Francis A. Johnson in 1950. Francis rolled twine four hours a day, every day and continued rolling for 29 years. He used a crane to lift it after it had become too large. Cawker City, Kansas claims the world’s largest ball of twine, but the Darwin, MN ball is the world’s largest completed by a single person. Johnson appeared on the “I’ve Got a Secret” game show on April 16, 1958.