After a stop at the cash bar and an introductory stroll around the exhibits, patrons gather in the auditorium for a mini Café Scientifique featuring Dr. Andrew L. Mack titled “Wild Nights in New Guinea.” Dr. Mack spent over twenty years in the jungle of Papua New Guinea studying the world’s second largest species of birds, the cassowaries. Cassowaries are huge. And terrifying. They also can eat 1/10th of their body weight in fruit. True to Café Scientifique format, Dr. Mack regaled the crowd with anecdotes and facts that could only come from an expert in the field.
You’ll roam upstairs, downstairs, through this hallway and that and find yourself in the Touch and See Discovery room where you are encouraged to get hands on. Giggles echo from a tucked away office in the back. As you move forward, a table filled with discarded remnants of beanie babies drifts into view. Suddenly, the program headline “Vegan Taxidermy” becomes all too clear. Patrons happily use a needle and thread to create a new species of squirrel-fish, frog-bird, and lion-pig. Because why not?
Make your way back through the museum stopping to gaze and engage with installations created by three artists from the museum’s highly sought after Resident Artist Research Project (RARP) funded through the McKnight Foundation.
Music fills the halls of the museum courtesy of The Cactus Blossoms. Many patrons stop to tap some toes and twirl some skirts while making their way down to the Exploradome.
This feels familiar--a circle of friendly people socializing around a warm glow with the starry night above. We Minnesotans love our campfires. Now replace the fire with glowing images of space and add astronomy shop-talk and you’ll have the Exploradome Open House at the Bell Social. Music from the upstairs gallery seeps in as we travel through space looking at exoplanets, asteroids, and discuss the unlikely use of nuclear bombs for space travel. Go ahead. Lie down. Stare at the ceiling splashed with images of the universe and marvel that this place is so close to your favorite microbrewery.
And just like that, the band slows to a stop, the lights dim, and patrons mill to the exits. You wonder where the time went and if they’ll notice if you stay a little while longer...