Science Museum of Minnesota Historical Fact Sheet
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In 2007, the Science Museum of Minnesota celebrates its 100th birthday. The following timeline describes the hundred years since the organization began as the St. Paul Institute of Science and Letters in 1907. While the name, focus, and location have changed, one thread runs uninterrupted throughout the organization's century-long history: a commitment to improving its community by providing memorable, meaningful learning experiences for a steadily increasing population of learners.
- 1907—The Science Museum of Minnesota was originally named "The St. Paul Institute of Science and Letters" by its founders. Originally a provider of public lectures, it was located in the St. Paul Auditorium. Throughout the following decades, the museum's official name changed numerous times: the St. Paul Institute, the St. Paul Institute of General and Applied Science, the Science Museum of the St. Paul Institute, and the Science Museum. Since 1970, it has been known as the Science Museum of Minnesota.
- 1918—The St. Paul Institute, as it was then known, offered free French classes, as well as courses in bread-making, nursing, food, and health, for World War I soldiers.
- 1920s—During its early years, the St. Paul Institute/Science Museum laid the foundation for numerous modern-day organizations including: the Arts and Science Council, the International Institute, several vocational schools, the University of Minnesota's extension classes, and the Woman's Institute.
- 1921—The Midwest's first free educational film lending library was established at the St. Paul Institute/Science Museum.
- 1927—The St. Paul Institute/Science Museum moved into the Merriam Mansion, which would be its home until 1964.
- 1933—Departments of anthropology, biology, geology, pure science, and applied sciences were established.
- 1930s—The St. Paul Institute/Science Museum proposed a move to downtown St. Paul's riverside. (The Science Museum of Minnesota's current facility is not far from the location proposed in 1935.)
- 1940s—Globes and maps designed by the Science Museum's new cartography department were used by the U.S. Navy during World War II.
- 1959—The Science Museum became one of only four museums in the world to have a complete Triceratops skeleton. During his first year at the Science Museum, Bruce Erickson, curator of paleontology, brought the Triceratops skeleton he found in Hell's Creek, Montana, to Minnesota.
- 1960s—Exhibit developers at the Science Museum revolutionized museum practices by adopting a goal of presenting information in ways that fit into the context of visitors' daily lives. They focused on making information engaging and interactive.
- 1964—The Science Museum moved to the Arts & Science Center on the corner of 10th and Exchange Streets in downtown St. Paul.
- 1971—The Museum Theater Program was established, the first permanent acting company in a United States museum.
- 1972—The Science Museum formed the American Indian Advisory Committee, one of the first in the country.
- 1978—The Science Museum opened the William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater building featuring the world's second giant screen domed theater. The opening film, produced by the Science Museum, was Genesis. The Science Museum continues to produce educational large format films to this day.
- 1981—The Science Museum's first traveling exhibit, The Eye of Science: Seeing is the Beginning of Understanding, was produced to be leased to other museums.
- December 1999—The Science Museum of Minnesota opened a new facility on the Mississippi Riverfront in downtown St. Paul, and introduced the first convertible IMAX dome theater in the United States.
- 2001—Paleontologist Kristy Curry Rogers joined the Science Museum's staff as curator of paleontology. Curry Rogers is internationally known for her dinosaur research, including the 2001 discovery of Rapetosaurus krausei, the discovery of cannibalism in a carnivorous dinosaur from Madagascar, and her work on dinosaur growth rates.
- 2003—The Science Museum released its 11th original large-format film production, Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees, becoming the nation's largest museum producer of large format films.
- 2006—The Science Museum hosted the internationally-acclaimed BODY WORLDS exhibit, shattering attendance records and putting the museum on the map as an institution worthy of powerful, nationally and internationally-recognized exhibitions and programs.
- January 2007—the Science Museum introduced its 18th original traveling exhibit, RACE: Are We So Different?. The exhibit's national tour was sold out for five years in 13 cities before the exhibit ever opened for its premier run at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
- 2007—The Science Museum of Minnesota celebrates 100 years of science and learning.
Kim Ramsden/Chris Bauer, Public Relations Co-Directors, (651) 221-9423
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Peg Roessler, Roessler Public Relations, (612) 200-8600