Natural History Museum Debuts its New Facility • Minnesota

The Bell Museum, Minnesota’s official natural history museum, has opened a new $79.2 million facility on the campus of the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. At the heart of the building is a 120-seat digital planetarium surrounded by high-tech exhibits and the museum’s renowned wildlife dioramas. The planetarium is the first of its kind in the world, using the latest innovations to create a “seamless” dome projection surface. Its “Minnesota in the Cosmos” production tells the geological story of Minnesota. The 146-year-old institution, previously known as the James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History, also features the Touch & See Lab with live insects, reptiles and other animals in addition to over 400,000 specimens in its educational collection. An open-air diorama of Ice Age Minnesota has a 24-foot-high glacier and full-scale woolly mammoth that’s become an Instagram hit. Inside the glacier is a theater with a new documentary by famed Minnesota photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg. (

Technology of Video Games Explored • Nebraska

Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland just debuted Game On: The History and Science of Gaming, an interactive exhibit about the evolution of gaming technology and animation. The exhibit, on display through January 6, 2019, is part of the museum’s education emphasis on STEM concepts, which include offerings in robotics, coding and other programs related to aviation and engineering. It includes a timeline of gaming from the 1940s through today. Over time, games evolved from social gaming at arcades and home console systems to competitive online gaming. The exhibit highlights pop culture aspects and allows guests to experience and build games. Included are retro arcade games, hands-on animation building stations, a giant video game, an eight-foot illuminated “Pixel Play” and an opportunity to explore the history and future of video games. (