- 120 W Kellogg Ave, St. Paul, MN.
- Exhibits only: $11 adults, $8.50 Senior 60+ and Child 4-12, 3 and under free.
- ASTC membership reciprocity.
- Pay parking available.
- Stroller accessible. Restrooms available. Cafe on site.
Since it was Father’s Day and my husband is a Star Wars fan, we managed to work in a stop at the new Star Wars exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. We don’t like big crowds, and because it was the opening weekend of the exhibit, we almost didn’t go. When we noticed that the museum was open until 11:30 p.m. through the summer, we decided to eat an early supper and go in the evening.
We arrived at the Science Museum at 5 p.m. The first-available tickets for the Star Wars exhibit were at 6:30. (There is an additional charge to see Star Wars, and tickets can be purchased online ahead of time if a specific time slot is desired.)
An hour and a half was a good amount of time to explore the rest of the museum. It had been two years since we’d been to SMM, and now that the boys can read, it was a lot more interesting for them. We spent a lot of time in the weather and light exhibits on the 3rd level, as well as exploring the 5th level Mississippi River area before entering the Star Wars area.
Even for a non-Star-Wars fan, the exhibit was interesting. We saw actual costumes of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and other characters, and other items from the movies. What I was most impressed with were the hands-on activities for the kids that demonstrated how things in the movies were done. Building a magnetic levitation Lego car, using computer animation to make various facial expressions, and making a robot’s legs move in a walking motion were hits with the kids.
Because tickets were sold for specific time periods, the Star Wars area wasn’t overly crowded. There was a 20-minute film that we did not stand in line for, but we got to do all of the hands-on things without waiting long.
On the way out of the exhibit there is a Star Wars gift shop (Halloween costumes, anyone?) and a photo opportunity with your choice of Star Wars backdrop.
My husband said the Star Wars display was definitely the highlight of his Father’s Day.
When we returned to the museum, we explored the human body area and then headed down to the Big Backyard, where you can pan for gems, play in the sand and make your own rivers, and play mini-golf (additional charge for mini-golf). We’d have liked to explore the backyard more, but by 8 p.m. the kids (and their parents) were ready to head for home. We definitely want to go back to spend more time in the Big Backyard.
The Science Museum was definitely more interesting for our older kids than for our toddler. Unlike other science centers we’ve been to, there’s no toddler/preschool activity area. Our two-year-old loved pushing buttons, but there wasn’t much that was age-appropriate for her to do. This museum is best suited for children ages 4-5 and up.
The other thing we noticed is that it was hard to keep track of the kids in the exhibit areas. Most of the hands-on activities are for one person at a time, so the kids would go around a corner to find something they could do. Even with a 2:1 child-to-adult ratio, we kept losing track of one child or another, even if they were just on the other side of an activity station.
My favorite part of the museum is the large set of chimes that play music faster as there is increased seismic activity around the world. They’ll be nearly silent for a while, and then chime more frequently in a song pattern as small earthquakes occur somewhere in the world.
We’re saving the Omnitheater (also at an additional charge) for when the kids are older as well. There will be plenty for us to see and do at the Science Museum for many years to come, and I think it will only get more interesting as the kids get older.
You can also read about our previous visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota.