By Janet Wight
After two challenging years, the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum in Falcon Heights now is offering a full slate of in-person and virtual programming.
Holly Menninger, the Bell Museum’s director of public engagement and science learning, provided the Bugle with a sampling of upcoming events:
Collectors Day will be held on Oct. 1. This event will showcase 25 collections that are owned and curated by members of the public.
Scientific collections will include cephalopod fossils as well as gems and minerals. But other types of collections also will be on display such as troll dolls, antique purses and placemats.
Halloween enthusiasts should enjoy the spooky science that will be found throughout the galleries from Oct. 20 through Oct. 30, including lots of creepy specimens and a scavenger hunt. A special evening is scheduled for 6 to 9:30 p.m., Oct. 26. Halloween: The Dead Zoo, is a slightly creepy evening in the darkened galleries of the Bell Museum. Live cockroaches, tarantulas and snakes will be ready to greet you, with special surprises lurking around every corner. Also, be sure to catch the moonrise at 7:50 p.m. Costumes welcome but not required.
The “Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend” exhibit will open on Oct. 22. This Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, which runs through early January, features the traditional ecological knowledge of the Inuit people.
The museum is also partnering with the White Bear Center for the Arts at its monthly evening Star Party on Oct. 28. Telescopes will be set up on the observation deck and the outdoor plazas.
Spotlight Science, a regular series during the academic year, features special guests who interact with visitors about particular topics. The Nov. 5 program, Brain Power, will be a discussion about the unique qualities of the human brain.
For planetarium enthusiasts, a new show “Mars: The Ultimate Voyage” will debut on Dec. 3. Funded by NASA, this program will highlight the challenges involved in safely transporting humans to Mars and back to Earth.
Although most of these programs will take place inside the museum, those who prefer to remain outside might enjoy a stroll through the outdoor Learning Landscape. Five acres of native plants, enhanced with paths and interpretive content, are available to the public without museum admission.
Originally necessitated by the pandemic, virtual programs have become extremely popular with residents of both the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota, Menninger said. Virtual star parties, guest speakers and moderated discussions are expected to continue in the months ahead, she added.
For additional information, go to the Bell Museum website at bellmuseum.umn.edu.
Janet Wight, a resident of Como Park where she lives with her husband and daughters, is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.