Above: Facade of the newly renovated Bakken Museum. Image courtesy Bakken Museum.

The quirky, innovation-focused, recently remodeled Bakken Museum fully reopened to the public on July 16. The renovated museum boasts a new courtyard, walkway overlooking nearby Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun), a refurbished lobby, an entrance with all-gender restrooms, and an expanded museum store. It is now open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Timed tickets must be reserved in advance online at thebakken.org.

"We hope that guests walk away from The Bakken Museum having conversations about becoming innovators for good," said The Bakken Museum President and CEO Michael Sanders in a statement. "In this moment, we are especially focused on providing a community space for people to feel connected to one another and inspired by our exhibits, gardens, and grounds."

RSP Architects and Mortenson Construction worked on the Bakken renovations. Remodeling began in January 2020. The museum closed in mid-March because of the pandemic, around the same time it had planned to close anyway for renovations. Construction continued on during museum closures. The Bakken Museum was one of the first to reopen to the public on June 20 with limited weekend hours and COVID-19 safety precautions. The museum will also offer in-person summer classes that make use of the new classrooms and makerspace.

This is the museum’s first major renovation since 1997, when architects Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle built an addition that nearly doubled the size to 25,000 square feet. That expansion included a new wing, medicinal garden, elevator and on-site parking.

Named after Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken, who invented the world’s first battery-powered pacemaker, the museum opened in 1976 at the West Winds mansion. It housed a collection of books about therapeutic uses of electricity, as well as a collection of early electrical machines. Built in 1928-30, the mansion combines many styles of architecture, including English Tudor and European Gothic Revival.

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