Tuesday, August 05, 2008

History of America Tour: The Mill City Museum

About a week ago I ventured down into the heart of America down to the great state of Kansas. Along the way I we stopped at a number of historic sites and museums. It was a fun chance not only to visit some new place and learn a bit of history, but to see some new and original projects.

One of the first stops along the way was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis is actually a terrific city with a surprising amount of things happening (sorry Minneapolis we had low expectations going in). It's got great art galleries, theaters, and of course, museums. We stopped at the Mill City Museum in the downtown.

Now the history of flour milling might not sound all that exciting, but there are definitely some great projects happening here. The Museum itself is built into the preserved ruins of the Washburn A Mill. Aside from being a great piece of architecture and preservation, they offer an excellent and smart little history of the city in 19 minutes that is quite well done.

But most impressive is the Flour Tower. Rather than producing a regular exhibit with displays set in place, they moved the exhibit into the former grain elevator. You step on and ride the elevator between floors, where the doors open into each display area. The story follows all parts of the milling process and is narrated with first hand accounts of what it was like to work in the factory as you travel between floors.

It's a terrific way to take an otherwise quite static exhibit and make it engaging and interesting.

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