The Bell Museum with grass and flowers in the foreground

2021 Report to the Community

July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021

Dear friends,

The Bell Museum began our 2021 Fiscal Year on a high note, reopening the museum July 13, 2020, nearly two years to the day from our grand opening on July 14, 2018. We completed the 2021 Fiscal Year on another high note with the first-ever Bell Museum Expedition. This two-week long event embodied the mission of the museum on so many levels. The Expedition brought Bell curators, undergraduate and graduate students, and our inaugural cohort of summer high school interns onto the Learning Landscape to prepare specimens and discuss with the public how collections are central to research. This innovative approach to engaging with collections and research ignited curiosity from visitors of all ages through conversations about the impact and importance of collections for understanding our world.

Through the generous support of donors, this spring the Bell invested in expanding our reach across the state by welcoming a new Director of Statewide Engagement, Natalie Kennedy-Schuck to the Bell Museum. Her leadership is already giving the Bell’s Museum without Boundaries initiative new energy and dimension. And on that note—to everyone in Greater Minnesota: we look forward to seeing you where you live, work, and play soon!

This year more than ever it is important that we take an opportunity to say thank you. First, to the museum’s staff—thank you for your steadfastness to our mission, our visitors and program participants, and each other during the past year (and always!). To each one of you that renewed your membership or joined for the first time—thank you. To all of our first time visitors—we can’t wait to see you again soon. To our educators who allowed us into your virtual classrooms—thank you. University collaborators—we appreciate your partnership. And to our donors, volunteers, advisors, and community partners who continued to invest in and engage with the Bell Museum, we are filled with gratitude for your trust in our ability to move forward, especially in these extraordinary times.

With gratitude,

Denise Young headshot
Denise Young's signature
Denise Young, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Bell Museum
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
University of Minnesota

Brian Buhr headshot
Brian Buhr's signature
Brian Buhr, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
University of Minnesota

Creating a culture based on grounded in diversity, equity, access and inclusion (DEAI)

As the Bell Museum’s internal DEAI committee has developed an action plan outlining the steps the museum will take to move forward in creating a better and more equitable future for our evolving world. This action plan and our progress are updated quarterly on the Bell Museum website, and we encourage you to learn more here.

Image on the left: a student and professor preparing an owl specimen. Picture on the right: Three people looking at a photograph of the night sky

DEAI Action Plan

Acknowledge History

Understand and acknowledge the history and current practices of museums, science, and education, and reveal systemic racism and ongoing discrimination that make these fields inaccessible and less safe for all people to participate in and contribute to.

Improve Programs

Audit and improve our public engagement and research programs to ensure they are grounded in equity and amplify the voices of those whose contributions have not been valued or heard.

Create Inclusive Environment

Create an inclusive environment for staff, students, volunteers, advisors, visitors, donors, collaborators, program participants, and all others who intersect with the museum.

Accountability / Improvement

On an ongoing basis, examine and challenge our own assumptions, biases, actions, and policies with a focus on removing barriers to our ability to contribute to a more just and equitable world.



1.2 million specimens and counting!

The Bell Museum has over 1.2 million scientific specimens that inform the work of our seven faculty curators, and serve as teaching and research tools for University of Minnesota graduate and undergraduate students.

In February 2021, the museum underwent a Collections Stewardship Assessment led by the American Alliance for Museums, the United States accrediting agency for museums. This peer review process provided the Bell Museum and its curators, collections, and research staff with recommendations on improvements to the collections spaces that will support continued preservation, collections growth, and expanded research opportunities in the future. 

As the Bell Museum looks to the future, its investment in preservation of the collections as well as opportunities to engage the public with the Bell’s scientific research and collections will continue to expand. We look forward to continuing to bring the collections to life as they provide critical information to help answer today’s most pressing scientific questions.



A person standing in the middle of several drawers that are open and displaying bird specimens

Two images side by side, the first one is a researcher holding a fish specimen and the other is a researcher looking at plant specimens through a microscope



Bell Financial Overview

A graphical representation of the revenue and expenses of the Bell Museum in the 2021FY. The information is as follows, "Revenue: University/State Support: $3,213,909, 33.9% Sponsored Projects:$443,391, 4.7% Membership: $160,828, 1.7% Endowment draw: $349,153, 3.7% Other Revenue: $452,006, 4.8% Earned Income: $314,515, 3.3% Philanthropy: $4,542,234, 47.9% and Expenses: Programs:$4,316,742, 68.9% Fundraising: $315,067, 5% Administration:$282,233, 4.5% Research & Collections:$1,354,764, 21.6%"

Donor Appreciation

Click here for our FY2021 donor roster.

The Bell Museum is grateful to recognize the philanthropic investments made by individuals, corporations, and private foundations received between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. We have made every effort to ensure that the names of donors are accurate. View the full list of donors, including those making gifts of $100+, here. If you have questions about your gift, please contact Hannah Baines, development director, at or 612-626-2673.

A collage of different images depicting people of all ages doing things at the Bell