We believe the world is made better when everyone has the opportunity to explore the intersections of science, technology, and the humanities. Through our world-class education programs, unique library and artifact collections, engaging exhibits, and expert staff, we inspire a passion for innovation.

Construction will provide new interactive exhibit experiences, improved ease of access, and enhanced on and off-site education programming.

The West Winds mansion is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with new Science Studios each month! The West Winds Mansion will also be available for private rentals throughout the project.

The Bakken Museum Renovation

A Bold Vision

Compelling new exhibits will explore stories of past, present, and future innovations that have prompted humanity to question ideas about ourselves, society, and the world. Visitors will explore themes including identity, connection & adaptation through a mixture of high and low technology interactives.


In June 2016, The Bakken Museum’s board of directors approved a new mission and vision for The Bakken Museum that emphasizes the inspiration and innovation processes. The upcoming renovation will enhance the museum’s current footprint to present stories of past, present, and future innovations that have prompted humanity to question ideas about ourselves, society, and the world. Compelling new exhibits and education programs will expand on the museum’s Inventing for Health initiative, exploring Minnesota’s long history as a leader in biomedical engineering, human enhancement, and medical technologies.

The renovation will introduce a 3,200 square foot exterior elevated walkway to reorient the entrance toward the lake and extend programming out on to a formal walkway over the wetland. The addition of a multifunction flexible space will create new opportunities for programs and further establish a modern design on the property. Using natural materials, including wood and zinc, will allow for the new forms to develop a patina over time. Internally, the current galleries will be consolidated to create a more unified exhibit and classroom experience in the lower level, while maintaining the antiquity of the West Winds Mansion.

This is the first phase of a multi-year construction project to bring updates and 21st-century enhancements to The Bakken Museum. The second phase, pending financial support, will increase the footprint, adding additional square footage to support educational, community, and rental activities.


RSP Architects have developed virtual reality renderings of The Bakken Museum's renovation:

RSP Architects and Mortenson Construction developed The Bakken Museum redesign. New exhibits are in the process of being designed by The Bakken Museum and creative consultants, Roto Group LLC.

The Bakken Museum is an independent 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. The museum welcomes 16,800 visitors to its location in Minneapolis, provides educational experiences to 45,000 students throughout Minnesota, and researchers from around the globe to study 14,000 artifacts and books.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Do you, or your organization, make the world a better place through science, technology, engineering, or math? Consider becoming a Bakken to the Future supporting partner. CONTACT US

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The Bakken Museum has been in its current location since 1975 and has not undergone a major renovation or update since 1998. The renovation will allow us to modernize our exhibits, provide enhanced educational programming, increase accessibility, and serve as a community meeting space.
The museum is currently renovating the lower-level wing which was added in 1998. This wing includes the main entrance, lobby, museum store, classrooms, makerspace, and exhibits. The West Winds mansion is not being renovated. Construction began in January and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2020.
The museum will be combining the first two galleries, formerly Spark of Life and Designing for Life, and creating one larger gallery space for the installation of new exhibit experiences. Mary and Her Monster, Frankenstein’s Laboratory, Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party, and Deep Roots: Plants as Medicine will remain.

It is important to The Bakken Museum that we improve upon and celebrate, not inhibit, our natural surroundings. We have been working with the Minneapolis chapter of the Audubon Society, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other experts to ensure that both construction and the finalized building are animal and environment friendly.

Examples of steps taken include:

  • A complete assessment of project impact on the wetland that was initially created by The Bakken Museum during the 1998 expansion. The project team has worked closely with consultants to mitigate impact and preserve the natural environment.
  • Installation of AviProtek 2x4 5MM Dot bird safe glass on the new glass entrance facing Bde Maka Ska

Many physical and cultural barriers exist that can prevent audiences from connecting with a museum. With this project, The Bakken Museum will become a premier gathering place for our entire community and an example to the museum field of an inclusive and accessible facility.

The museum is taking steps to increase accessibility including:

  • Adding bilingual text throughout the new exhibit experiences and building
  • Introducing programming for individuals with sensory processing differences and memory loss
  • Integrating accessible design into the new exhibit experiences

The Bakken Museum’s first science education program took place in 1984. Since then, the museum’s programs have grown in complexity and popularity, reaching nearly 44,700 individuals on site at the museum and across the state.

The museum’s current renovation will allow us to expand our makerspace by 20%, modernize our classrooms for flexible use, and introduce a new flexible outdoor education area.

Prior to construction, The Bakken Museum conducted a series of on and offsite surveys to gather information around public interest and met with the West Calhoun Neighborhood Association. Public feedback was taken in to consideration when planning accessibility, amenities, and exhibit content.

The Bakken Museum is proud to partner with industry leading thinkers, designers, and builders to reinvent its spaces and experiences.

Partners include:

To stay up-to-date on building and exhibit renovations, sign up for email updates and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at @thebakkenmuseum.

With press inquiries, please contact Associate Director of Marketing and Communications Laura Whittet at whittet@thebakken.org or 651-242-0779.

To support The Bakken Museum’s facility and exhibit renovation, contact Associate Development Director Alex Askew by email at askew@thebakken.org or 612-926-3878 x251.

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