Close up of ice

❤️ Heart & Solstice ☀️

Welcome the new season and celebrate the returning light at the Bell

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of sunlight in our hemisphere—after December 21, the days begin to get longer again!

Take heart and celebrate the season with the Bell Museum December 16–December 31 during museum hours (closed December 19, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). We’ve planned a variety of programs and activities and invite you to visit the museum to enjoy them all! Take a Winter Walk through the galleries, learn about winter constellations in the planetarium, visit the temporary exhibit Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, get creative with a scrimshaw art activity, and more. Come learn and play with us!

Bell Museum Holiday Hours – We are excited to celebrate the Winter Solstice with you! Stay up to date on holiday hours as you plan your visit to the Bell Museum this holiday season.

In-Person Activities

  • Winter Walk
    December 16–December 31

    Join the Winter Walk during your visit! Journey through the landscape of Minnesota without leaving the building! Grab a curated guide and get ready to spot some seasonal sights—everything from glaciers, to birds, to the Northern Lights. Be sure to look out for the snowflakes on the museum floor, they’ll help guide the way!

  • Minnesota Night Skies
    See Planetarium Showtimes

    Join our planetarium staff for this live, interactive planetarium show as we take a look at the sky above Minnesota, including seasonal constellations, the Moon, and visible planets. There’s something in the sky for everyone.

  • Fun Gallery Activities
    December 16–December 31

    We’re celebrating teeth and tusks as we host the exhibition Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend. After you see Narwhal, stop by the gallery cart Tooth vs. Tusk. Then join us in Collections Cove, where you can learn about scrimshaw, or the art of carving on tusks, and make a new design using an old art form!

    When you visit our Minnesota Journeys galleries, be sure to explore Not a Science Person and add your experience to this community-built data visualization.

  • The Christmas Bird Count
    December 17

    The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was founded in 1900 as a way to promote conservation by counting, rather than hunting, birds on Christmas Day. The CBC uses a specific method to count birds. Each count takes place on a single day between December 14 to January 5 in an established 15-mile diameter circle.

    The Bell Museum is located in the Saint Paul (North) Count circle. Volunteers will be out counting birds on designated routes in our circle on Saturday, December 17. We will support the CBC by reporting the birds we observe at our feeders on count day.

    Visit the Touch and See Lab all day to connect with volunteers and Master Naturalists who will be identifying and counting the birds that visit our feeders.

  • Resident artist Felicia Cooper
    December 17, 10am-12pm

    Bell resident artist and puppeteer Felicia Cooper will perform in the galleries with work in progress from her puppet show exploring Minnesota’s native mussels and the wonder of natural history collections.

    During her residency at the Bell, Felicia is working with curators, staff, and other experts to create a performance that draws from the Bell’s collections to emphasize the importance of biodiversity. We’ll have more details as her project takes shape.

  • Solar Observing
    December 18 & 30

    The winter solstice is a time to celebrate the Sun’s “rebirth,” when days stop getting shorter, and the Sun starts to climb higher in the sky once again. Join us December 18 & 30, 12–2pm* as we celebrate the winter solstice and observe the Sun through our telescopes on the Learning Landscape outside the museum. Make sure to dress for the weather and bundle up as it is officially the first day of winter.

    Safety note: Never look directly at the Sun without proper solar filters. The Bell Museum telescopes utilize safe solar observing equipment.

    *This event is dependent on clear weather. In the case of clouds, the event will be cancelled.

Virtual Activities

  • VIDEO: Virtual Star Party – Exploring the Geminids, Meteors, and Meteorites

    Relive the Bell Museum Virtual Star Party! Watch as the planetarium team explore meteors, meteorites and the Geminids meteor shower. Learn the best time to look for meteorites and how to determine if you have found a rock from space! The planetarium team will also share views of the night sky through the telescopes from the Bell’s observation deck.

  • VIDEO: Solstice Storytime

    Join Education Programs Manager Sarah Riemer for a special winter solstice storytime, Moonbear’s Shadow. In this video, you’ll also learn more about how the winter solstice works.

  • VIDEO: Sketching

    Get your pencil and paper ready for an exciting Heart and Solstice sketch session with the Bell Museum’s Touch & See Lab Coordinator Jennifer Menken! Learn the basic steps for drawing your very own narwhal.

Winter constellations

Check out videos from our Constellation Hunter series below and learn how to spot the many constellations in our night sky this winter!

Bell winter Zoom backgrounds