With cutting edge operations like the Walker Center, Minneapolis has a lot of street cred when it comes to museums; and certainly, the city should be on any art or history lover’s bucket list.
What you may not know is that the city also contains some other, lesser-known institutions, many of which are eccentric labors of love for their weird and wonderful owners.
From amateur sports to outsider art, here are five offbeat-but-must-see museums in and around Minneapolis.
No laughing at the back please. This is serious! Well, as serious as you can get when you’re talking about art made out of bowling balls.
House of Balls definitely takes the crown when it comes to weird Minneapolis museums, but it’s actually a hell of a lot of fun, too. The artworks, all created by owner Allen Christian, range from the beautiful to the terrifying.
While Christian’s main muse is bowling balls — which he believes have the power to transfer energy from one bowler to the next via their finger holes — he also creates artworks from household ephemera and other consumer items.
It may not be immediately apparent, but the strange structures littering this lot on a dead end street near the river are actually part of a sculpture park, built by Belgrade-born artist Zoran Mojsilov in homage to his own wild genius.
While the park seems to be perpetually under construction, there’s a certain charm to Mojsilov’s minimal, Stone Henge-like sculptures that makes them worth a visit. You may even want to bring a picnic, and spend some time among the odd constructions to appreciate the park’s unique vibe.
Have you ever wanted to twiddle the Bakelite knobs in a 1960s era radio studio? What about trying out your sci-fi soundtrack skills on a Theremin?
No? Well, you should do it anyway on a visit to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting. We all know that technology has changed rapidly, but the incredible collection of vintage electronics here will put it all in perspective. Parents note, they also run super-fun workshops for kids.
The Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame is a must-see attraction for anyone who feels a twang of nostalgia for the triumphs and tribulations of their Little League days.
Established in 1963, the museum features an extensive collection of uniforms, equipment, trophies and other memorabilia from local leagues, dating back to the beginnings of amateur baseball in 1857.
It’s worth visiting the Bakken Museum just to see the historic mansion and wander the lush gardens — in fact, in the warmer months, it’s common to see a wedding or two taking place on the grounds.
Inside, things get a little creepier. The museum’s collection will take you on a journey through the bloody and bizarre history of medicine and science, and includes plenty of oddball items such as antique electro-therapy devices like an electro-static bath, and belt designed to stimulate the male genitals with electricity — ouch!
If you’re in the mood for something a little more conventional, Minneapolis has plenty to offer. Must-see museums include the Frederick Weisman Art Museum (designed by Frank Gehry), the Mill City Museum, and the Museum of Russian Art — which is the only museum of its kind in the U.S. From the weird and wacky to the sublime, Minneapolis sure does have something for everyone.