Science Museum of Minnesota
The Science Museum of Minnesota is an American museum focused on topics in technology, natural history, physical science and mathematics education. Founded in 1907 and located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit institution is staffed by over 500 employees and over 1,600 volunteers. The museum's mission statement, "Turn on the science: realizing the potential of policy makers, educators, and individuals to achieve full civic and economic participation in the world", reflects its intention to foster science citizenship for all its publics.

Permanent Exhibits
There are a number of exhibits that are always in the museum, including:
  • The Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery showcases several real and replicated dinosaur skeletons, as well as many complete and preserved animals. Some highlights include a Triceratops, Diplodocus, Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Camptosaurus.
  • The Human Body Gallery shows visitors the various tissues, organs, and systems (such as blood or digestion) that make up the human body. Visitors can extract DNA and perform other science experiments in the Cell Lab.
  • The Experiment Gallery allows visitors to explore concepts in physics, math, and physical and earth science with interactive displays.
  • The Collections Gallery gives visitors a glimpse of what's stored in the museum's Collections Vault. It includes many preserved specimens and cultural artifacts, as well as the Collectors' Corner. Traders (primarily children) bring in natural artifacts they have found to trade them for points or another artifact. (More information is in the Collectors' Corner section of the museum's website.) The Collections Gallery also holds the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices , which the museum acquired in 2002 when its original owner Bob McCoy retired and donated the collection.
  • The Mississippi River Gallery takes advantage of the Museum's proximity to the river, and a National Park, to educate visitors about its natural resources. Visitors can learn about the environment and animals of the river.
  • The Big Back Yard is an outdoor exhibit that contains information and interactive displays on earth science. A mini golf course lets visitors explore erosion, pollution, and water movement up close. The Science House is a zero emission building aimed at educating visitors about renewable energy and energy conservation.
  • Science Buzz is an exhibit where you can dig deeper into science headlines. It is constantly changing and has a presence in each gallery of the museum.

The Omnitheater
The new building has a dual-screen IMAX/Omnimax theater, with both a wall screen for IMAX films and other flat presentations, and a rotatable dome for viewing Omnitheater films, the first such convertible theater in the Northern Hemisphere. The domed screen can be rotated around the theater to reveal the IMAX screen. The counterweights for the system were so massive that they had to be put in place before the rest of the building. The theaters boasts "the largest permanently installed electronic cinema projector in the world," an advanced computer system to coordinate the theater's facilities, and a complex sound system to accommodate both viewing formats, according to the website. The museum has been a leading producer of Omnitheater films, with ten to its credit so far:
  • Genesis (1978)
  • Living Planet (1979)
  • The Great Barrier Reef (1981)
  • Darwin on the Galapagos (1983)
  • Seasons (1987)
  • Ring of Fire (1991)
  • Tropical Rainforest (1992)
  • Search for the Great Sharks (1995)
  • The Greatest Places (1998)
  • Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (2002)

Special Exhibitions
The museum hosts 3-4 special exhibitions a year. Past exhibitions have included: Powers of Nature (2000) Kinetosaurs (2000) When the Dinosaurs Were Gone (2000) Sue the T-Rex (2000) Scream Machines (2001) Grossology (2001) Mysteries of Catalhoyuk (2001) Sharks: Fact and Fantasy (2001) Playing with Time (2002) Magic: The Science of Illusion (2002) Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga (2002) Circus! (2003) Glow (2003) CSI: Crime Scene Insects (2003) Robots and Us (2004) of Life and Land (2004) Chinasaurs (2004) Animal Grossology (2005) Invention at Play (2005) Cabaret Mechanical Theater (2005) Strange Matter (2006) Body Worlds (2006) Race: Are We So Different? (2007) Wild Music (2007) A Day in Pompeii (2007) Deadly Medicine (2008) Animation (2008) Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination (2008) CSI: The Experience (2008) Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear (2009) Water (2009) Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition(2009) The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World (2010) Geometry Playground (2010)

Other Facilities

Mississippi River Visitor Center
Inside the lobby of the Science Museum is the National Park Service Visitor Center for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Mississippi River exhibits and National Park Rangers are available to help people learn about and experience the Mississippi River. The visitor center is also equipped with resources to help plan trips to any of the more than 390 National Parks. Entrance into the Mississippi River Visitor Center is always free.

The Collections Vault
The museum houses a collection of over 1.7 million artifacts and objects in its vault, ranging from dinosaur and other animal remains and fossils, preserved animals and plants, and cultural artifacts from extinct and extant civilizations. The collections division maintains a staff of scientists and researchers including paleontologists, archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, ethnologists, and archivists. Researchers visit the vault to take advantage of the unique collection, but it is not open to regular museum visitors.

The museum also has an extensive education division. In addition to many on-site youth and family classes, day camps and summer camps, museum programs are also hosted at various schools throughout the region. Day classes and summer camps often involve science, technology, nature, and art themes. Overnight camp-ins let large groups sleep on the exhibit floor and have time to explore the galleries and view an Omnifilm as a group. The museum is also one of the leading professional development resources for teachers in the state.

Three locations in the museum offer food. A coffee shop shop that sells Caribou Coffee (the Java Lab) is located outside the Omnitheater's entrance in the museum lobby. The Elements Cafe offers a full menu, including grill and deli options, pizza, and specialty foods. Chomp, located outside the Dinosaurs and Fossils gallery, serves many cafeteria-style foods. The Elements Cafe and the Java Lab are both open to the public without purchasing museum admission.

3-D Cinema
In addition to the Omnitheater, the museum has a cinema for showing digitally-projected 3-D films. Visitors wear clear polarized glasses to view short films with a vivid 3D effect. The museum has also produced films for this medium, beginning with Mars 3D, which features images from the Mars Rovers. The theater closed in 2007 as the new format did not catch on in other markets.

Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center
The museum is associated with the Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center which is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) offsite in Washington County. The center provides natural history education opportunities for all ages on over 600 acres (2.4 km 2) of lakes, bogs, woodlands and grasslands.

Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center
The Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (YSC) is an informal learning environment for young people ages 11-18 at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The mission of the KAYSC is to, "empower youth to change our world through science. " Although there are some volunteers in the KAYSC who are too young for jobs, most of the teens in the KAYSC are actual museum employees, engaging in activities ranging from staffing the Cell Lab on the museum floor to engaging in community activism around urban agriculture and climate change . The teens are guided and mentored in science, technology, work, and life skills by the adult staff.

Until 1999, the museum was located on Wabasha Street in downtown Saint Paul, but in that year the museum moved to a new complex built into a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The new building is larger and better equipped to handle the demands of large group visits and includes bigger facilities for the education division and exhibit galleries.


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