Legacy Projects

The Legacy Amendment is a constitutional amendment adopted by Minnesota voters in November 2008. It raised the state sales tax by 3/8 of 1% for a period of 25 years and dedicated the earned revenue to clean water, parks, outdoor habitat, and arts and cultural heritage. A website was created by the Minnesota Legislature to help citizens monitor how funds from the Legacy Amendment are being used. On the Minnesota’s Legacy: watch the progress website you can see how funds are being invested across the state.

As a Legacy fund beneficiary from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Science Museum of Minnesota has been able to improve our collection of artifacts representing Minnesota’s cultural heritage; create deeper and broader connections about our work with residents throughout the state; and inspire more enthusiasm in Minnesota for science and its impact in the past, present and future. An overview of our Legacy-funded projects is below.

We Move and We Stay Exhibition

Henry Whipple was Minnesota’s first Episcopalian minister, appointed in 1859. He was an avid collector of American Indian objects and an advocate for the Ojibwe and Dakota people living in Minnesota. Legacy Amendment support provided acquisition funds to preserve American Indian objects in the Bishop Whipple collection. The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund have been instrumental in helping the Science Museum of Minnesota to establish and complete our American Indian exhibit and programming, We Move and We Stay, beginning with the purchase of the Whipple collection in fiscal years 2010-2012. We Move and We Stay was created in the fiscal year 2013 and features artifacts from both the Whipple collection and the museum’s other American Indian collections. The exhibition tells the story of generations of Dakota and Ojibwe people who have made their home in Minnesota. We relied on our American Indian advisory council in shaping this exhibit and they have lent their voices, as this is their story to tell. The exhibition opened in February 2013 and we continued to expand and improve the exhibit.

Statewide School Initiative

The Science Museum of Minnesota continues to make it a top priority to enhance our programs and offerings to schools and teachers throughout the state. Support from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Legacy Amendment has generously enabled the Science Museum to reach students and teachers in all 87 Minnesota counties with valuable science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programming. With support from previous Legacy funds, the Science Museum implemented initiatives to ensure that a field trip to our museum is a valuable use of instructional time and meets the needs of the schools we serve. We continue to refine and improve many of our virtual programs that were developed in years prior. Nearly all free, online lessons underwent at least some redevelopment this past year based on feedback from users and our own learnings. Overall, there were around 75,000 student engagements with educational programming in our 2022 fiscal year and around 11,000 engagements with educators.The majority of student engagements (54%) were tied to synchronous offerings including field trips and assemblies. This included 34,506 student engagements on field trips, and 5,925 student engagements through outreach programs.

RACE: Are We So Different? Small Community-Based Exhibits

In 2004, the American Anthropological Association selected the Science Museum of Minnesota to help them create a 5,000 square foot museum exhibition exploring race and human variation. The central themes include examining race from three interwoven perspectives: the most current science regarding human variation; the history of the idea of race and the role of science in shaping the concept of race; and the contemporary experience of race and racism in the United States. The RACE: Are We So Different? exhibition first opened at the Science Museum in January 2007. The exhibition resonated widely and then traveled throughout the United States. In October 2015, it returned to its home in Saint Paul.

STEM Lending Library

The STEM Lending Library project team developed space use, budget, and program plans for a relocated and revitalized STEM Lending Library. The library space is adjacent to the school entrance for field trip programs. This will provide greater visibility for the program throughout the year compared to the current location in Science House, which is a separate structure on the museum grounds. The plans developed informed the Science Museum's commitment to create a renovated space and to expand resources in support of high quality STEM education. The renovated Lending Library will increase the ease of use, promote visibility, and expand access to high quality STEM materials, resources, and curriculum support for educators. The Lending Library was able to foster 5,754 engagements in our 2022 fiscal year.

SMM Collection for all Minnesotans

We have been working to increase access to the museum’s collections through digitization of catalog records, imaging objects, and making the records ready for posting on the museum’s website via a publicly accessible portal to the collection. In our 2022 fiscal year we digitized 7,489 records including 824 object images. The objects came from three different collections: the Hmong Collection, Pedersen site archaeology project, and the Ethnobotany Collection. In addition to the digitization work, the team focused on the physical inventory in preparation for record updates and, when needed, the creation of additional catalog records. This preliminary work set us up for more efficient and complete digitization of the Ethnobotany Collection, which continues into our 2023 fiscal year.

The Science Museum is grateful for support from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Legacy Amendment. 

For more information, contact Jon Severson at jseverson@smm.org. Our thanks to Minnesotans across the state who make these projects possible.

For more information on Legacy projects, please visit www.lcc.leg.mn.