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A Natural Curiosity: The Story of the Bell Museum – Book Launch Event

Apr 17, 2022 | art/design

Bell Museum

Cranes with text that reads: A Natural Curiosity The Story of the Bell MuseumSince 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. From its conception as part of a state-mandated geological and natural history survey, to its most recent ventures into technology, environmental science, and DNA sequencing, the Bell Museum has informed, explained, and expanded our relationship to the natural world. Drawing on a wealth of materials unearthed during the museum’s recent move, the gorgeously illustrated book, A Natural Curiosity, chronicles the remarkable discoveries and personalities that have made the Bell Museum what it is today.

Join us for a special evening book launch event featuring brief presentations by the book’s co-authors Barbara Coffin and Don Luce, followed by a moderated conversation with Coffin and Luce, hosted by the Bell Museum’s Science Director Dr. George Weiblen, also a contributing author to the book. They will be joined in conversation by lead writer and co-author Lansing Shepard and co-author Gwen Schagrin as well as contributing author Sally Brummel.


The book can be ordered online or purchased at the Bell Museum’s Curiosity Shop.

The event is open to the public via Zoom. Please register through Eventbrite. Attendees will receive a link two days prior to the event.



Wednesday April 20th
7:00 pm–8:30 pm
2088 Larpenteur Ave W
St Paul, MN

About The Speakers

Barbara Coffin has promoted the conservation and understanding of Minnesota’s natural world throughout her career. She is the former head of media productions and adult programs at the Bell Museum and played an important role in the design of the new museum’s exhibit galleries. She is executive producer of the Emmy Award–winning television documentary Minnesota: A History of the Land and coeditor of Minnesota’s Endangered Flora and Fauna (Minnesota, 1988).

Don Luce is the former Bell Museum Curator of Exhibits. For more than forty years he has curated most of the museum’s temporary exhibitions, including Exploring Evolution, The Lion’s Mane, Wildlife Art in America, and Audubon and the Art of Birds. He initiated the Bell’s traveling exhibitions program, developed and expanded its natural history art collection, and played a key role in the conception and design of the new museum’s permanent exhibit gallery, Minnesota Journeys.

Dr. George Weiblen Bell Museum Science Director and Curator of Plants, is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota. He studies the ecology and evolution of plants, pollinators, and pests in Papua New Guinea. He earned a doctorate in biology from Harvard University.

Lead writer and co-author Lansing Shepard and co-author Gwen Schagrin as well as contributing author Sally Brummel will participate in the moderated discussion.

This event is being held in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Press.


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