The Bakken Museum was established in 1975 by Earl Bakken, co-founder of Medtronic and local Minneapolis resident. The Bakken is in the West Winds historic mansion at Lake Calhoun and provides one of the most beautiful settings in the Twin Cities with the Florence Bakken Medicinal Gardens providing a beautiful landscape.
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The programs and exhibits at the Bakken, a Smithsonian affiliate, focus on electricity and properties of magnetism as well as the medical technology industry. The museum currently holds a world-renowned collection of historic medical instruments and scientific books and medical journals, most of which were acquired by Bakken in the 1970’s. The same year that the museum opened, the collection was incorporated for nonprofit use and named the Bakken Museum of Electricity in Life. The name changed to The Bakken in 1986 with the museum remaining its nonprofit 501(c)3 status.
The Bakken Museum is housed in the West Winds mansion designed by Carl Gage in the late 1920’s. The home designs incorporate elements of both English Tudor and Gothic Revival. The home was used as a private residence until purchased by Earl Bakken in 1976 to become home to the Bakken Museum. A vault was added underground in 1981 with environmental controls to hold the vast collection.
Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party-Join a 1700’s science party just like Ben Franklin would have hosted in this gallery that features parlor tricks, a Leyden jar battery, static electricity, a makeshift hail storm and more.
Frankenstein’s Laboratory- Watch a 12-minute show that features the science behind the Frankenstein monster and Mary Shelley, the author who wrote Frankenstein when she was just 18 years old.
Gardens- There are 3 gardens that visitors can explore including the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden that is inspired by Medieval European style gardens with fountains and aquatic plants. The Dakota Native Plants Garden features plants native to wetlands areas with wildlife commonly seen grazing. The Healthy Heart Organic Garden is a vegetable garden maintained during the summer months that utilizes organic composting and other methods. Garden tours are held seasonally on Saturdays.
Welcome to West Winds- Visitors can explore the West Winds mansion and learn about the unique architectural designs and craftsmanship that went into designing the facility. Visitors can also scavenger hunt for time capsules found throughout the museum.
Body Electric- Learn how our bodies produce electricity through controlling a game with just your mind, making music from your heart rhythms and learn about the torpedo fish that was used in ancient Rome. Visitors will also see relics of medical artifacts and antique pace makers.
Spark of Life- Visitors learn the history of electricity and magnetism through interactive experiments and medical equipment.
Electropolis- Focused on Minneapolis, this exhibit showcases how the electric and medical industries transformed the city.
Cabinet of Curiosity- Artifacts taken from the vault not usually on display can be found in the Cabinet of Curiosity that regularly rotates artifacts and displays to represent the history of electricity, as well as student curated art and nature collections.
Mary and Her Monster- The newest exhibit at Bakken Museum, this gallery focuses on Mary Shelley and immerses visitors into the mind of the author who created Frankenstein through interactive experiences and games.
The Great Hall- The Great Hall is an area of the museum used for special exhibits that are curated seasonally.
Educational Opportunities and Special Events
The Bakken provides STEM focused programming to the Minneapolis community and school districts. There are many special events and one-day programs that are produced throughout the year. Specific dates and details, including registration information, can be found on the Bakken website.
Discovery Days- Discovery Days are included in the cost of museum admission and occur at least once per month with in-depth science exploration of focused topics.
Evenings at the Bakken- This adult program is for visitors age 21 and over and includes after hours admission to the Bakken with adult beverages and science experiments provided. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.
Science Studio- On weekends and days that school is out, the whole family can engage in hands on exploration of different science activities that are rotated monthly. These activities are included with admission.
Group Visits- The Bakken welcomes schools and community organizations to the museum for field trips. Guided tours are available that provide stories, history, and help engaging with exhibits. Self-guided tours that include discounted admission for groups are also available when planned.
3537 Zenith Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55416, Phone: 612-926-3878