The original Bell Museum was a charming natural history museum, housed in an art deco building with lovely woodwork, hand-painted scenes, and tons of real items from their collection. The new, shiny, hard, loud, and expensive location is, in a word, repugnant. Much of the actual floor space is given to large theaters, which require additional tickets. There are far fewer actual items on display, though a few of the lovely old background paintings have been transported (or perhaps recreated).

What predominates though are fiberglass recreations, interactive displays, screens, and a babble of pre-recorded voices competing to blare their message at you. At one intersection of rooms I could hear four different recordings all blabbing away. Children may enjoy the museum, briefly. There is a room on the main floor full of items they can touch. Unfortunately, the upper floor is full of buttons they can hit to start off videos and voice recordings. All the charm is gone; the new Bell has the warmth and appeal of an airport. Too little actual content, too much faux puffery. If you go, aim for a time when the fewest children are there and bring an aspirin or two.

Bell Museum
2088 Larpenteur Ave W
St Paul, MN 55113

Pics from the original museum…