Reimagined Bell Museum Opens to Rave Reviews / by Liz Maurer

The Bell Museum connects people, nature, and the universe. D&P’s newest project recently opened to universal acclaim. The Natural History Museum, founded in 1872 only 14 years after Minnesota became a state, set out to reimagine and interpret exhibits for contemporary audiences. The new exhibits—housed in a brand new building—continue the Bell Museum’s commitment to preserving and interpreting the state’s natural heritage. It does so with charm and delight—according to the press notices—while also serving scientists, historians, and artists.


The Museum shared its vision for a new museum in its Request for Proposal, saying:

The Bell Museum and Planetarium will be a catalyst for personal discovery about our home planet Earth. It will be a place that celebrates Minnesota’s natural resources, inspires wonder about our place in the Universe, and promotes STEM education through the integration of science and humanities.

Four New Galleries and a Hands-On Experience

The Bell Museum’s permanent galleries are organized around four themes. Each thematic area invites visitors to explore science while visualizing their places within the universe.

Life in the Universe


Life in the Universe reconstructs the story of Earth’s origins. The exhibits demonstrate how modern astronomers continue the quest to find potentially life-bearing worlds beyond Earth's solar system.

Tree of Life


The Tree of Life gallery demonstrates that species evolve through time. The myriad biological specimens on exhibit illustrate adaptation, convergence and mutation--features of evolution. 


Web of Life


The Web of Life explores Minnesota's complex ecology by journeying through its coniferous forests, prairies and wetlands, big woods, and rivers.


Imaging the Future


Imagining the Future illustrates human influence on the natural world. The gallery features the University of Minnesota's researchers and scientists who study Minnesota's ecology.


Touch and See


Touch and See invites visitors of all ages into a tactile examination of nature and its history.

An Engaging Visitor Experience

Museum exhibit design firm Gallagher & Associates explained that the new Bell Museum demonstrates that the story of the universe is really the story of “you.” The Bell Museum’s exhibits emphasize the interrelationships between people and nature. They seek to inspire visitors believing that if people knew what was out there they would value it and act to save it. The exhibits open a window into understanding the natural world, encouraging people to live a lifestyle in harmony with the natural world.

Project Details

Groundbreaking: Earth Day, April 22, 2016
Exhibit Installation: Summer 2017-Summer 2018
New Building Open: Summer 2018

Architect: Perkins+Will, Minneapolis
Construction: McGough, Minneapolis
Exhibit Designers: Gallagher & Associates, Maryland
Exhibit Fabrication & Installation: Design and Production Incorporated