The Bakken Museum Announces Renovation to Begin in 2020, Releases Virtual Reality Renderings

November 18  

Project will increase accessibility, provide new exhibit experiences and education offerings

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Bakken Museum President & CEO Michael Sanders has revealed renovation plans for the lower level of the museum, including some exhibit spaces, the classrooms, lobby, store, and entrance to begin in January 2020. Construction will improve visitor flow and increase engagement through enhanced programming and exhibit experiences.

“The 2020 renovation is about honoring the past, reimagining our education programs, and creating an improved experience for our visitors,” said The Bakken Museum President & CEO Michael Sanders. “We have worked with architects, exhibit designers, environmental organizations, and an advisory board of professionals from diverse backgrounds to make sure that these updates blend technology and nature in an accessible manner.”

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.

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 remarkable site and architecture of The Bakken Museum’s existing buildings have helped guide our approach to this project,” said RSP Architects Principal Derek Mccallum. “We will introduce a modern vernacular that will bridge the notion of time and further establish the new experiences which the museum is creating.”

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:

During construction, the West Winds mansion will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4  p.m. and will be available for private rentals every day of the week. Beginning Saturday, Dec. 30, 2019, some exhibits, the classrooms, and the museum store will be closed to the public. The Bakken Museum expects to reopen these areas in time to offer summer camps and introduce new exhibits in the summer and fall of 2020.

“The Bakken Museum is committed to ensuring that everyone can see themselves as an innovator,” says Joe Imholte, Vice President of Programs and Operations. “We’re developing fun, new experiences that engage visitors at the intersection of science, technology, and the humanities.”

The Bakken Museum is an independent 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.

The Bakken Museum logo, images of the current museum, and renovation renderings are available to download here:



The Bakken Museum inspires a passion for innovation by exploring the potential for science, technology, and the humanities to make the world a better place. The museum is Minnesota’s only Smithsonian-Affiliate Museum and features a world-renowned collection of books and artifacts, multiple galleries focusing on the wonders of invention, plant medicine, biotechnology, and science, and The Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden. For more information, visit or call 612-926-3878.

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