History

Historic Bell Museum

On March 1, 1872 the Minnesota legislature approved "An Act to provide for a geological and natural history survey of the state..." and in turn, that "natural history and geological specimens be prepared, and a museum to be established at the university."

Today, it remains the mission of the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History to skillfully collect, preserve, prepare, display, and interpret our state's diverse animal and plant life for both scholarly research and teaching, and for public appreciation, enrichment, and enjoyment. Its governance belongs, by state legislative designation, to the University of Minnesota.

In a larger sense, the Bell Museum is a gateway to the natural wonders of our state and a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. The Museum serves young and old alike as they seek to find—and better understand and appreciate—their own place in a living, changing universe. Watch a video about the legacy of the Bell Museum!

Did you know…

The Bell Museum has exceptional scientific collections of nearly 4 million specimens. Mammals, birds, fishes, plants, mollusks and insects provide opportunities for research and learning. In addition to the largest collection documenting Minnesota's biodiversity, it also has significant collections from around the globe that serve as a resource for the international scientific community.

Bell Museum scientists work in the treetops of Papua New Guinea's tropical forests, in the rivers of southern Minnesota and the capitals of Europe! Their research provides important baseline data for scientists and conservationists and creates a record of the earth's biological diversity.