MN History Center

345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102


Tue 10 am-8 pm 
Wed-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Sun Noon-5 pm 
Closed Monday (Open 10 am-5 pm Monday holidays year round)
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Tue 9 am-8 pm
Wed-Sat 9 am-4 pm
Closed Sunday and Monday
Library Holiday Hours

Free Admission



2017 Sep 20


Then Now Wow

From past to present, many “Wow!” moments have shaped this great state. Come learn about them in the largest exhibit ever created by the Minnesota Historical Society!

Explore Minnesota’s history in the prairies, forests and cities, interacting with the people and animals who have made their homes here. On your journey, you will:
  • Ride a Twin Cities streetcar and peek out the windows as different times and places go by. 
  • Descend underground into an Iron Range mine and drill the ore.
  • Learn about the story of Rondo, a thriving St. Paul African American community torn apart by I-94.
  • Sit in a modern tipi and learn about Dakota history and culture through Bobby Wilson’s poetry and visual art.
  • Visit a pioneer family and imagine what life was like in an 1870s sod house.
  • Hitch a ride on a Soo Line boxcar through Southwestern Minnesota and learn about the history of the area through original music by Charlie Parr.
  • Learn about the fur trade from the perspective of its main commodity, the beaver.
  • See the emergency exit door from the school bus involved in the I-35W bridge collapse signed by all the children and adults aboard the bus.
  • Encounter more artifacts and images unique to Minnesota’s diverse people and historic events.
While designed for school-aged children, this exhibit is perfect for everyone who wants to learn more about Minnesota!
Made possible by the Legacy Amendment through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008. Major support provided by Target, the 3M Foundation, the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, the Katherine B. Andersen Fund of The Saint Paul Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support from the BNSF Foundation, Rosemary and David Good Family Foundation, Grotto Foundation, Hardenbergh Foundation, Dr. William F. and Hella Mears Hueg, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation and the George W. Wells, Jr., and Mary Cobb Wells Exhibition Fund.

The exhibit features an amusing video on the fur trade featuring the trade's main commodity, the beaver. One of the very first photos of Minnesota, a daguerrotype from 1855 showing tipis in the foreground of what is now downtown Minneapolis. A computer interactive where users become a Dakota leader negotiating treaties with the U.S. government while learning about the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. A multi-sensory underground iron mine where visitors will "descend" into a mine to find, drill and dynamite ore. Ojibwe arts and crafts are highlighted, including this beaded yoke. A Mississippi River headwaters monument, one of the actual iconic monuments that once stood where the Mississippi begins in Lake Itasca State Park. A replica of an 1870s sod house that encourages visitors to explore and imagine what it was like being a pioneer on the prairie. A photo essay featuring Worthington, the city with the largest Latino population in Minnesota. A Twin Cities streetcar that visitors will "ride" while traveling through time and places along University Avenue. The streetcar will visit stops including a Dillinger gang member house in 1934; an African-American student protest at the U of M in 1969; and the frogtown area where today more than 100 Asian-owned businesses, like Saigon restaurant, have transformed University Avenue. Recovered personal effects from the 1894 Hinckley fire including a watch and teaspoon found at the fire. A multi-media Soo Line boxcar takes visitors on a ride through southwestern Minnesota with original music by Charlie Parr. Grainland play area, where visitors can trace the journey of wheat and corn by climbing into a grain elevator and sliding through the chutes. The emergency exit door from the school bus that was on the I-35W bridge when it collapsed, signed by all the children and adults aboard the bus, Aug. 1, 2007. 	 A modern take on a traditional Dakota tipi where visitors learn about the history and culture of the Dakota people by "virtually" hanging out with visual artist and poet Bobby Wilson (Dakota/Lakota).