A Visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota
Beverly Eschberger

Some people might go to the Twin Cities in order to do some power shopping at the Mall of America, but my husband and I were more interested in the Visitors to the Science Museum of Minnesota enter the museum at Kellogg Boulevard on level 5. The William L. McKnight 3M Omnitheater, Mississippi River Gallery, and Tugboat Terrace are also located on this level.

On level 4 is the U.S. Bank Great Hall, which holds traveling exhibits. Also on level 4 is the Collections Gallery. Visitors will see a mummy, exotic animals, historic collections, crystals, a giant tree segment, and an exhibit of Questionable Medical Devices. In the Human Body Gallery visitors will find lots of hands-on experiments and activities to learn about how the human body works.

On level 3 is the Experiment Gallery with experiments in math, electricity, gravity, sound, magnets, physics, and weather. The Seismophone plays tones that correspond to the location, intensity, and duration of earthquakes around the world.

On level 3 is also the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery. Visitors will see skeletons of Camptosaurus, Allsosaurus, Diplodocus sp., Stegosaurus sp, Triceratops horridus, and Pteranodon sp.. Also to be seen are skeletons of Glyptodon clavipes, Champsosaurus gigas, Leidyosuchus formidabilies, and the extinct bird Paraphysornis brasiliensis. A small skeletal diorama houses the extinct mammals Hoplophoneus sp, Hyaenodon sp, Styhermys sp, Poebrotherium sp, and Leptomeryx sp..

I was a bit disappointed by the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery. Although there are some hands-on activities and interpretive information, the number of skeletons is rather limited for the size of the museum. My favorite areas were the Human Body Gallery and the Experiment Gallery. The interactive exhibits will keep children entertained for a morning or afternoon, perhaps even an entire day.

Members of the Science Museum of Minnesota receive the Scope newsletter, free admission to the museum, free admission to films at the Omnitheater, previews to new exhibits and Omnifilms, a discount on selected classes, lectures, trips, and camps, and a 10% discount at the Explore Store. Members also receive free admission to museums and science centers in the Association of Science-Technology Centers Passport Program.

It is a great idea to become a member of your local natural history museum. Membership usually includes free or reduced admission to the museum and special events (often invitation to members-only events), as well as a discount at the museum gift shop. You will usually receive a calendar of upcoming events and often a monthly or quarterly publication of museum research. Some museum publications such as Natural History, published by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and Smithsonian, published by the Smithsonian Institution, are quite lush. Some museum memberships also offer a reciprocal membership to other museums. Membership is a great way to learn more about the natural world and to support your local museum.

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