Thursday, September 22, 2016

Minneapolis 2016 - A Rainy Day, Hence Another Museum

I had looked at the forecast before I left and knew that rain was likely on Saturday. The prediction was  correct so we were forced to decide on another indoor activity It's parameters, it needed to interest adults and entertain and distract an 8 year old. We chose the Bakken Museum, an interactive institution emphasizing electricity, electrical currents and how they are generated and transmitted. This included how electricity can be conducted through the human body.

The museum began life in a gothic revival mansion built in 1928. Like mush in Minneapolis there is a connection between the mansion and the retailer Target. The home was built with money made from the sale of a dry goods store to the eventual founder of Dayton Hudson which through a  series of mergers and acquisitions eventually became Target, one of the largest employers in Minneapolis. More space has since been added to house additional exhibits which pays tribute to the gothic nature of the original structure.

There are games powered by brain waves and hand grips where one can measure their heart rate (mine is in the mid 50's beats per minute range). On a screen musical instruments can be dropped into the pictured heart which then emit tunes in time to one's heartbeat. There are vintage electrical devices on display, including several medical ones that illustrate how far we have come in that field. There is a book from the 13th century, an early polygraph machine and an early 20th century telephone housed in an small gallery which showcases pieces from the museums extensive archives. The gentleman that started the museum was fascinated by electrical devices and collected them by the thousands forming the core of the museum. In the mansion's grand hall are tables with batteries, cables and small electrically powered objects where children can play and learn how electricity is conducted through wires. In another room electricity is sent to a device which when touched will make one's hair stand on end. A good natured, long haired biker type agreed to demonstrate much to the delight of my grandniece who giggled at the sight of the rough looking character's hair flying wildly around his head.

While my grandniece built various electrical gadgets I took in the mansion's architectural details. It is as if a grand centuries old European castle had been transported to the U.S. and then scaled down. In one room there is a large copper hooded fireplace. A photo from 1975 shows it as the t.v. room where a caption states the family liked to gather to watch, as many others in that era did, Bonanza. Other photos show the home, despite it's grandeur, appearing lived in, homey and comfortable. A stunning carved wooden fruit basket decorates a newel post at the foot of a staircase in a small hall. Beautiful painted glass panels grace the tops of many of the windows. Outside is a small lovely garden where, despite the light rain, I was able to steal a few quite moments. Water trickling over rocks in an ornamental pond created a tranquil background as a tiny blue bird flew across the setting of lawn and flowers.

As we left my grandniece and two other children were treated to a conversation with a small tuxedo clad robot named Oscar. He was remotely controlled by a museum worker sitting in a corner. By texting he can make the robot speak. My nephew asked the robot if he ever had a problem with auto correct. "Ja, you betcha" came the robots authentic Minnesota reply.

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