Minnesota History Center

Trying to get my kids to find excitement in anything with the word “history” in it is a far cry from reality. They prefer adventures with words like “jump” or “zone” or “punch each other” in them. But finally, after years of driving by it on our way to a Saints games or the Children’s Museum in St. Paul, at ages 14, 11, and 8, I was able to convince them that it could be kind of cool. So we went – we finally visited the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. And – even they would admit – it was a very pleasant surprise.

We will definitely consider the Minnesota History Center an option going forward. It is the perfect way to spend a cold Minnesota afternoon leisurely strolling through each exhibit. And while there’s no jumping or punching each other, it was still interactive, interesting, and (gasp) educationally fulfilling without being boring! Wins all around.

What is the Minnesota History Center?

The Minnesota Historical Society’s goal is to preserve the stories of Minnesota’s past through education, tourism, programs, resources, and of course actual historic sites and museums. From battlefields to historic homes to petroglyphs and farms, the MHS does a fantastic job preserving the past. The Minnesota History Center is just one of those preservation efforts and is jam-packed with thought-provoking exhibits, action, and interactivity – so, quite ideal for kids!

The museum is not just a library of old books and timelines. The museum is separated into themed rooms (making it very easy to navigate) and will keep you busy with questions, films, special exhibits, reenactments, and yes, books and timelines.

The Minnesota History Center looks overwhelming from the outside, but most of your time will be spent on the third floor where the exhibits are sectioned out by room (similar to the Children’s Museum). Exhibits we found fascinating were “Weather Permitting” (about tornados, wind, ice, and temperatures in Minnesota), “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation” (about war, military, old cars, soda fountains, and how things were in the ‘olden-days’), “Then, Now, Wow” (where you crawl through an iron mine and use dynamite), and “Grainland” (a climbing area for the littlest visitors).

But the real reason we went to the museum in the first place was for the temporary exhibit, “The Life & Art of Charles M. Schulz.” I love Snoopy and the gang and find Charles Schulz so interesting. It was worth the price of admission! I loved it and learned and the kids got to draw cartoons and see old toys and read up on characters. I was one happy mama, and the kids enjoyed every minute!

If you can get to the Minnesota History Center before June 2024, be sure to take time to visit Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the whole crew. You’ll also see a huge photo of Camp Snoopy (before it was Nickelodeon Universe) at the Mall of America. Talk about feeling old!

How much are we talking?

Your admission to the museum gets you all-day access to the exhibits with a wristband. You can order ahead of time online or purchase at the desk on the main level when you walk in. If ordering ahead, you do need to know the date you plan on going.

Admission to the museum is:

  • $12/adults
  • $10/seniors
  • $8/kids ages 5-17,
  • Free for kids 4 and under or MNHS members (if interested in membership, check out the benefits here – it’s only $79/year for a whole household).

What do you need to know about the Minnesota History Center?

  • Admission tickets can be purchase ahead of time, but you will have to select the date you plan to attend. Otherwise, you can pick up tickets at the museum day-of.
  • The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays (and many holidays). Most open days they close by 4pm. You can check their daily and seasonal hours on their website here.
  • There is a smallish parking lot right by the entrance with a $6 charge for non-members.
  • There is a coat room for those cold winter months (who wants to carry their coat around when you’re trying to play on interactive exhibits?). It’s unsecured and located on the first floor, free of charge.
  • Right when you walk in the front entrance, you’ll see a Marketplace Grab-n-Go that sells sandwiches, snacks, beverages, and other small items for a hangry child. Seating is limited.
  • Don’t forget to look through the binoculars by the giant glass window that lets you stare into the capitol building.
  • We had kids ranging in ages from 8 to 14 and they all found it interesting. The tornado and D-Day flight simulator were a little intense, but SUPER well done.
  • Be prepared for questions. Our kids read and read and read. They also learned and asked a lot of questions I was not sure how to answer. Happy my parents were there to help out!
  • That being said, if you have them in your life, consider bringing an older generation with you when you go to shine some extra light on some of the learnings throughout the museum. Having my parents there was able to give some perspective on their parents’ dealings with The Great Depression, World Wars, and more.
  • Interactivity is part of the fun at the Minnesota History Center. Blow some dynamite, dissect a bison (ew), see the inside of a tipi, experience a tornado, hit your quota on the factory line making ammunition, serve ice cream at the soda fountain, trace Peanuts characters in the Charles Schulz exhibit, step inside a boxcar, do a scavenger hunt, hear video stories from soldiers, sit inside a C-47 on D-Day, and climb up into the “grain bin” (it’s just a play structure).
  • If you come in warmer months, enjoy a lunch on the hillside outside the History Center. Not only does it overlook the state capitol building, but it is home to beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Exhibits change so keep an eye on the website or their social media. Also, hit up one of their phenomenal programs, panel discussions, or forums about topics important to the history of our lovely state. Event listings are on their website.

Hours and Directions

The Minnesota History Center is CLOSED MONDAYS AND TUESDAYS. The rest of their hours change slightly depending on season, but on average their Wednesday through Sunday hours are around 10am-4pm. Check their exact hours on their website here.

The Minnesota History Center is visible right off Highway 94. Enter the parking lot from Kellogg Blvd. Parking in their lot costs $6 and has limited parking. We went early and didn’t have any issue finding a spot.

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

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