The Bakken. An unexpected museum of electricity and magnetism set in a gorgeous mansion beside Lake Calhoun. A place where you are figuratively and literally shocked. Several times. It’s awesome.
Greeted warmly by Donna and Jim at the front desk, I paid the $7 admission and searched through their button bin. I knew these were my people when the Tesla button was nowhere to be found. They were all out. It’s a popular button. All that is left is Edison. Yes. That is the correct response, Bakken audience.
Upon entering the museum your eyes have difficulty settling on one item. The museum is happily brimming with artifacts and hands-on demonstrations. Founded in 1975 by Earl Bakken, the collection was created as a library of electrical medical devices for the company he created, Medtronic. Needless to say, the collection is thorough and expansive. Moving from one display case to another you learn the incredible history and impact of electricity and magnetism on our everyday lives.
Moving upstairs you’ll find Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party room. If you are lucky, Bakken Museum Volunteer, Mr. Awesome will appear and calmly say, “Have you met Thor?” To which of course you will answer in the negative. Mr. Awesome will then proceed to explain and demonstrate the room full of objects that Ben Franklin is reported to have used to impress the French troops into joining the American Revolution.
You’ll leave the room with your hair standing on end and thoroughly “buzzed” with excitement. Perhaps next you’ll meander through some of the mansion’s expansive rooms laden with dark wood and lead paned windows making your way to the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden. Soak in the sunshine and stroll the grounds while learning about the local medicinal herbs formerly used to cure common ailments before over the counter methods existed.
The Bakken Museum has a lot to offer adults and precocious children. If you are visiting on a Saturday, check out the Science Studio in the Galvani Classroom for a taste of the inventors workshops. Greeted by a knowledgeable Bakken educator and a table strewn with wires, circuits, and batteries, visitors are encouraged to create to their heart’s desire. With a strong value for education and cultivating a space for young minds to explore and create, the museum offers many inventors workshops and camps that nurture the creativity of budding inventors of all ages and backgrounds.
For more information about events, camps, workshops, and the museum, please visit their website. Special thanks to Mr. Awesome and Jen Scott for their enthusiasm and knowledge about the museum and its artifacts.
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