Bell Museum of Natural History
St Paul, MN
The Bell Museum of Natural History, on the University of Minnesota’s campus, reopened in July 2018, serves as an inspiring space for continued learning. A natural history museum of the future, the Bell Museum brings the University of Minnesota’s rich collection into a new light, with groundbreaking new exhibits, learning labs, and a learning landscape showcasing the ever-changing dynamics of the natural world. The new 92,000 square-foot facility encourages visitors to discover, document and understand life in its many forms and to inspire curiosity, delight and inform stewardship of the natural world.
Cascading through time and the universe to present day Minnesota where diverse biomes are the product of the glacial sweeps of the ice age, the Bell Museum’s exhibits cover a variety of topics, along with the world-renowned wildlife dioramas.
Image Courtesy of Design & Production, Inc. Photography: 2018 Copyright, Duncan R. Millar
With core exhibitions specially designed as teaching environments, the Museum supports an integrated approach to natural history and astrophysical science focused on the challenges our planet faces, including climate change, water quality, and sustainable food production.
We wanted the exhibits to foster inclusion and a sense of personal engagement that inspires curiosity, delight and informed stewardship of the natural world.
Sujit Tolat | Principle & Executive Director, G&A Singapore
Image Courtesy of Design & Production, Inc. | Photography: 2018 Copyright, Duncan R. Millar
The reimagined exhibits take visitors on a journey from the creation of the universe to Minnesota’s own unique habitats. With an emphasis on relevance for visitors and a goal of engagement, the exhibit designs are meant to demonstrate that the story of the universe is really the story of “you.” The Bell Museum’s new state-of-the-art planetarium takes you on amazing journeys from the far reaches of the cosmos to deep inside the human brain. Using the latest technology to construct a “seamless” dome, this planetarium is the first of its kind in the United States.
The signage program echoes the aesthetic and visual language of the museum’s architecture, while also respects and delivers on the mission of the museum to ignite curiosity and wonder, explore our connections to nature and the universe, and create a better future for our evolving world.
Gallagher & Associates took care to ensure each material used was sustainable and conscious of the museum’s mission. Pylons are constructed out of reclaimed TMT (Thermally Modified Timber), left-over from the building facade. Wayfinding and donor signage are fabricated using Richlite, a highly-sustainable material made from resin-infused recycled paper.
Gallagher & Associates designed interpretive signage and wayfinding for the Bell Museum to connect visitors to the learning landscape, where they can explore geological artifacts, a living beehive, permeable pavers, a sundial sculpture and more. Interpretive signage highlights each features origin and significance among the learning landscape, while also providing donor recognition throughout.