Exterior of the Bell museum with text on bottom left: Bell Museum. And text on upper right: 150 years

Bell 150

Celebrate 150 years with the Bell Museum!

The Bell Museum celebrates 150 years beginning January 2022. The yearlong celebration will feature different experiences that showcase the rich and varied history of the museum. Seeing Birds, a dynamic exhibition focusing on the intersections between art, nature, and science, begins the 150th year. Throughout the 150th year, programs aimed at serving communities across the state will serve the Bell Museum’s mission and vision. This includes distributing Science & Nature activity kits to children, piloting new programs to better serve K-12 school children and more.

Man holding a fish specimen in front of rows of several fish specimens.

The Bell Museum understands the important roles specimens have to teach us about the past as we prepare for the future. The museum has more than 1.2 million specimens of wildlife, plants and fungi from around the world that helps researchers and students address environmental issues, preserve biodiversity, and forecast where species may end up in the future.

In 2016, the Bell launched the first web portal providing access to all of the museum’s biodiversity collections. The Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas is an online digital resource offering public access to hundreds of thousands of specimens, from algae to zebras. The Atlas houses over 10 terabytes of data on more than 16,000 species from Minnesota and around the world.



We invite you to engage with each new experience and look forward to celebrating this landmark anniversary with you. Stay tuned as we continue to share more about this exciting milestone!

Coming Soon

  • Jan 28–Oct 2

    Seeing Birds

    The exhibition Seeing Birds integrates art, science, and nature to ignite curiosity and wonder about the beauty and biology of birds, engaging visitors in an exploration of birds, their environments, and their evolution.

    Thank you to our special exhibition sponsors: Dellwood Foundation and Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union.

  • Feb 3–6

    Space Fest

    The fourth annual Space Fest will explore the future of space exploration. Visitors will enjoy four days of virtual festivities – featuring experts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the University of Minnesota.

    This program is generously supported by Ruth and John Huss.

  • Apr 7-9

    Statewide Star Party

    The Bell Museum invites curious minds across the state to participate in the 3rd annual Minnesota Statewide Star Party. Hosted by schools, colleges, libraries, museums, parks, and other local organizations, all events are family-friendly and include free outdoor sky watching and activities.

    This program is generously supported by Ruth and John Huss and WEM Foundation.

  • April 20

    VIDEO: A Natural Curiosity: The Story of the Bell Museum

    Since its humble start in 1872 as a one-room cabinet of curiosities, the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of natural history has become one of the state’s most important cultural institutions. Drawing on a wealth of materials unearthed during the museum’s recent move, this gorgeously illustrated book, A Natural Curiosity, chronicles the remarkable discoveries and personalities that have made the Bell Museum what it is today.

  • Jul 19 – Aug 14


    Gaia is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram, known well to Bell audiences from his acclaimed installation of Museum of the Moon in summer 2019. Visitors are invited to the Bell Museum to see the Earth from a breathtaking perspective as if you were in space.

  • Launching in 2022

    STEM Nights for Youth and Families

    In this pilot program, STEM Nights will provide complimentary science kits to Minnesota schools containing 10 science and nature activities from multiple disciplines that are engaging, educational, and easy to implement. The Bell Museum will support schools in carrying out a STEM Nights event for the purpose of engaging students and families in hands-on, educational, and fun science and nature based activities!

    This program is generously supported by General Mills and Manitou Fund.

  • October 1

    Collectors Day

    For the first time ever, the Bell Museum will host a Collectors Day to showcase and celebrate collectors and their unique items. The event encourages viewers to heighten their curiosity of how items are cataloged and explore the connections to scientific collections, which play an important role in research and understanding of natural history. Applications for those interested in displaying their collection open July 1, 2022.

  • Returning Summer 2022

    Bell Science & Nature Kits

    The Bell continues to be a museum without boundaries in summer 2022 through the development and delivery of hands-on Science & Nature kits. The Bell will distribute 10,000 kits to several communities across the Twin Cities for students and families. 

    This program is generously supported by Boston Scientific Corporation, General Mills, H.B. Fuller Corporation, SPIRE Credit Union and WEM Foundation.

  • Launching Fall 2022

    Mars: The Ultimate Voyage

    The Bell Museum developed a new planetarium show exploring a historic journey to the red planet in Mars: The Ultimate Voyage. Created for curious audiences and their families, the show examines how astronauts stay healthy and motivated during their long missions away from home. The show will also display the need for creativity, collaboration and communication for deep space travel.

  • Oct 22 – Jan 8

    Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

    The Bell Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, brings an exciting new exhibit to the Twin Cities, Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend. The exhibit showcases the ways Inuit communities and Smithsonian researchers have worked together to help us better understand both narwhals and a changing Arctic impacted by climate change. Visitors will have the opportunity to view a full-scale narwhal model and engage in interactive features that will appeal to all generations.

    Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend was developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Thank you to our 150th Anniversary Sponsors

A variety of logos for General Mills, AgriGrowth, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Pork Board, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, and Minnesota Turkey Growers Association