Bell Museum: Minnesota’s Natural Heritage – St. Paul, MN

Jan 9, 2021 | people/passions

The late John Tester’s book, “Minnesota’s Natural Heritage,” will be launched as an updated second edition in January 2021. The second edition of “Minnesota’s Natural Heritage” introduces readers to the major ecosystems that give our state its rich and varied character and have been profoundly altered in the twenty-five years since the book’s first edition. In an interview with the Star Tribune, the authors talk about their connections to Tester and why the new edition of “Minnesota’s Natural Heritage” is due. Visit the link to read more and join us on January 21 for a virtual book launch with a conversation exploring this definitive work on Minnesota’s natural history and ecology!


The story of Minnesota’s natural landscape, reaching back to the time of the glaciers, covers at least 12,000 years. Yet even against that vast expanse, recent decades have significantly transformed the natural world that is Minnesota’s greatest resource. In the second edition of Minnesota’s Natural Heritage, readers are introduced to these ecosystems—the lakes and rivers, forests and prairies, farmlands and wetlands—and how they have come to be, how they function, and how they have changed so rapidly and dramatically in recent years. Full-color illustrations document the state’s striking natural beauty in all its vigor and fragility, while maps, drawings, diagrams, and graphs amplify points of historical, ecological, and geological interest.

Bell Museum

Preserving & celebrating Minnesota since 1872.

The new Bell Museum brings together science, art, and the environment with a unique Minnesota perspective. Our new home features a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, our famous wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences and more.

The new facility is expected to triple the number of annual visitors—and we hope you’re one of them. If you love to explore and discover, you’ll love the Bell Museum more than ever before!

Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium

Our state-of-the-art planetarium takes you on amazing journeys from the far reaches of the cosmos to deep inside the human brain. Learn more about our dome and other space programs.

Minnesota Journeys

The permanent galleries—which include our world renowned wildlife dioramas—span space and time, from the origins of the universe, through the diversification of life on Earth, to Minnesota’s own unique habitats. Also, learn about U of M researchers who are working to create a better future for our evolving world.

Touch & See Lab

The Bell Museum created the first natural history museum discovery room in the world, and we are proud to carry that tradition on in the new Touch & See Lab where all ages can actively learn through observation and sensory engagement.

Learning Landscape

The learning continues outside with a second floor green roof and observation deck, and sustainable landscaping with native plants, geology exploration area, solar station, and other highlights on the ground floor.

The land we stand on is Dakota land

As the state’s natural history museum, the Bell Museum seeks to ignite curiosity and wonder, explore our connections to nature and the universe, and create a better future for our evolving world. Our goal is to advance understandings of the natural world that will create a sustainable future.

These understandings include the traditional knowledge systems of indigenous peoples, the first inhabitants and caretakers of the land. These systems capture histories, relationships, and ecological expertise. To advance our mission, we rely on and share some aspects of indigenous knowledge systems and understandings of the land. We do this in consultation with indigenous peoples.

The Bell Museum sits on the traditional and treaty land of the Dakota people who, along with the Ojibwe people, are the indigenous peoples of the land now called Minnesota. In recognition of this fact, and to honor the Dakota people for their care of and knowledge of this land, we waive general museum admission for Dakota and all indigenous peoples.

Map of Minnesota and Mississippi rivers showing Dakota names



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