New science musuem melds old, new exhibits

Amber Foley

When the Science Museum of Minnesota reopens in its new building, it will combine the nostalgia of its old exhibits with the excitement of its new additions.
The new facility, located on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, will publicly open its doors for the first time Saturday.
“The old museum was running out of space,” said Todd Fogdall, associate director of corporate relations. “It was built to accommodate 300,000 visitors a year, and the museum was receiving one million.”
Fogdall said the new museum is twice the size, allowing it to feature brand-new exhibits, a bigger Omni theater and a new 3D-laser show.
The $99 million facility was built on a land grant and funded largely by fund raising, and county and state contributions.
The museum features five galleries and has added more interactive and multimedia activities, Fogdall said.
“We’ve really tried to make as many learning experiences as possible and to mix the learning with fun,” he said.
The Mississippi River Gallery will greet visitors entering the museum Saturday. The gallery features interactive, multimedia exhibits about the river and allows visitors to see an authentic towboat.
“This exhibit helps people to understand why St. Paul is here, why the Twin Cities are here and the effects that the Mississippi River has had on them,” Fogdall said.
The museum’s fourth floor allows visitors to explore themselves in the new Human Body Gallery, which includes a new interactive cell lab.
“It gives visitors a hands-on experience and shows what our researchers, doctors and nurses are doing day to day,” Fogdall said.
The fourth floor also showcases the Collection Gallery, which highlights the museum’s unique acquisitions over the past century.
“The museum, which has 1.75 million objects in its collection, has out only 1 percent of its total collection at any given time,” Fogdall said.
The museum’s third floor focuses on the elements of electricity, energy and the weather in the Experiment Gallery.
“We’re trying to — as interestingly as possible — tell a story on how energy works,” said Forrest Price, an exhibit official.
The third floor also features the Dinosaur and Fossils Gallery.
Fogdall said the new museum was designed to educate a whole range of people.
“We have activities that kids can grasp, but we also have things more orientated toward high school, college and beyond,” Fogdall said.

Amber Foley covers science and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3213.