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6 Must-See Museums in Minneapolis

By Donna Tabbert Long , Contributor : U.S. News & World ReportAug. 19, 2017

A world of cultural experiences awaits at these top-rated museums in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Mill City Museum has been touted as the most explosive and best-smelling museum around. (COURTESY OF MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

In Minnesota, known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it’s easy to soak up some culture, history and art. For visitors to Minneapolis-St. Paul, the hard part is deciding which of its outstanding museums to check out first. The following are some of the cities’ best, according to local experts.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art


There are more than 89,000 priceless artworks from six continents at the acclaimed Minneapolis Institute of Art. Its vast collection “encompasses almost every genre of art there is,” says Lisa Heath, W insider at the W Minneapolis – The Foshay. “I always tell people you could spend a week going there every single day and still not see everything.”

Located in a 1915 beaux-arts building in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Whittier, this fine arts museum is free to visit. View must-see masterpiece paintings by Rembrandt, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. Don’t miss its incredible Chinese jade collection or its stone Yogini sculpture from 10th-century south India.

Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed Monday.

Walker Art Center

Since 1940, the renowned Walker Art Center has showcased an ever-changing array of modern and multimedia works. “It’s one of the top contemporary art museums in the country,” says Kristen Montag, senior public relations and communications manager at Meet Minneapolis, the city’s tourism association.

Galleries feature Andy Warhol paintings, experimental sculpture and special installations, and its theater has innovative drama, dance and music performances. The adjacent and recently revamped Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is always a draw for families. Free and open from 6 a.m. to midnight, it’s where the city’s iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture is located. Admission to the Walker Art Center costs $14 for adults, and it’s free for those 18 and younger. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s closed Monday.

Mill City Museum

Mill City Museum


Located on the Mississippi riverfront in the remains of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, the Mill City Museum has been touted as the most explosive and best-smelling museum around. “I love it because it gives you a little history about Minneapolis in this historic building,” says Liisa Soulak, director of guest services at the Radisson Blu Mall of America.

All ages enjoy the engaging exhibits and demonstrations: Watch a model mill explode (showing the effects of flour dust), sample homemade bread in the baking lab and take a ride on an old grain elevator called the Flour Tower. Finally, don’t miss fantastic river views from its ninth-floor observation deck. Base admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 5 to 17. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It’s also open on Mondays in July and August.

American Swedish Institute

American Swedish Institute

American Swedish Institute (COURTESY OF PAUL CROSBY)

Both a museum and a cultural center, the American Swedish Institute is actually housed in two buildings. The historic and castlelike Turnblad Mansion, with its fairy-tale turrets and stone facade, is filled with stained glass, rich handcarved woodwork and some 11 handcrafted Swedish tile stoves. “It’s just beautiful, an amazing place,” says Kirk Williams, concierge at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. The adjacent 34,000-square-foot Nelson Cultural Center offers a cafe and a variety of classes, exhibitions and experiences, all with links to Sweden. The mansion is especially popular when it’s decorated for the holidays, and the annual St. Lucia festival is a big draw.

Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for children 6 to 18 and full-time students with an ID. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with later hours on Wednesday, as well as Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Weisman Art Museum

Weisman Art Museum


Designed by famed architect Frank O. Gehry, this teaching museum for the University of Minnesota is interesting for many reasons, Montag saysBut most often, she says, “it gets a lot of attention from people who just want to see the outside of the building.” Indeed, the stunning piece of stainless steel and brick architecture is a work of art itself, and truly striking to behold at sunset. Located near the Mississippi River, the Weisman Art Museum has a diverse collection that features more than 25,000 works of art, including ceramics, Korean furniture and contemporary artwork – with special exhibitions and programs scheduled throughout the year.

Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed Monday.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota


Overlooking the riverfront in downtown St. Paul, the Science Museum of Minnesota has been turning on visitors to scientific wonders for more than 100 years. With “lots of interactive exhibits and a theater that plays awesome films, it’s just a really cool place,” says Conor Casey, concierge at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel. All ages love snapping a selfie in front of an enormous triceratops skeleton in the Dinosaur and Fossils Gallery, and examining their own cells in the Human Body Gallery. Visitors can create waves, tornadoes and other natural phenomena in the Experiment Gallery.

Admission is $18.95 for adults and $12.95 for children 4 to 12. Museum hours are Sunday through Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

To experience more of what Minneapolis-St. Paul has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

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