This is the 2nd year we have purchased a family pass to both the Minnesota Historical Society and The Science Museum of Minnesota. Both passes allow us to take advantage of free entry to multiple sites across Minnesota and across the country.
The Minnesota Historical Society Membership is under $100 per year for a household and allows entry to over 26 museums and historic sites across Minnesota including the Historical Society, James J. Hill House, Split Rock Lighthouse, Fort Snelling and Mill City Museum.
The Mill City Museum is conveniently located in downtown Minneapolis at 704 S 2nd Street, along the west bank of the Mississippi River, next to the Guthrie Theater. There is some street parking, but we parked in the ramp across the street, which cost about $4.00.
The museum is a National Historic Landmark and is built on the ruins of the Washburn A Mill. The original mill was built in 1874, and was leveled by a major flour dust explosion which threw debris as far as Summit Ave in St Paul. The mill was rebuilt and opened again by 1880 and produced flower until it closed its doors in 1965 and burned almost completely to the ground in 1991. The ruins of the mill remain surrounding the courtyard, and looks very much like ruins you might see in Europe as a result of WWII.
We didn’t really know what to expect at the museum, but the person at the ticket booth was very helpful and suggested we start by watching the movie “Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat“, a very entertaining and educational film written by and starring Kevin Kling, who has an irresistible Minnesota accent. My sons ages 14 and 20 are history buffs and enjoyed the film, and even the toddlers in the audience were attentive.
After the film, we toured the museum exhibit hall, which had interactive displays for all ages, including videos with interviews of former mill workers.
The highlight of the visit was the Flour Tower Multimedia show, where you are seated on a platform inside a grain elevator, and go up and down 8 floors, with a display on each floor depicting work inside of the mill. At the end of this show, you are deposited on the 9th floor observation deck, with stunning views of the St. Anthony Falls and a close up of the Gold Medal Flour sign.