With Paul Bunyan and Chinese warriors, museum stores in St. Paul and Minneapolis charge into the Black Friday fray


Move over, Mall of America: there’s a new Black Friday tradition emerging for culture vultures in the Twin Towns. Museum stores are jumping into the mix offering unique seasonal shopping events on the day after Thanksgiving. Think of it as a “Cool-To-Wear-Black Friday”—we are talking museums, after all. The Minnesota History Center (MHC) and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) are both hosting big Black Friday events, with specials that go beyond the gift shops and into the galleries.

At MHC the theme is: “Black Friday, Not Just for Retailers.” Both the History Center and the on-site store will be touting deals and door busters that “would make Paul Bunyan proud.” Doors open at 6 a.m. on Friday, and those wide-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to be there get free parking, gifts, doughnuts, coffee, memberships and more. Plus there’s free admission until 9 a.m. to the opening of the “Then Now Wow” exhibit, the largest Minnesota history exhibit ever. Got rellies up in Paul Bunyan country? They won’t be left out, as there’ll be a live Internet feed from 5:50 to 6:20 a.m. There will also be live music from the Petticoat Rustlers and a visit from Paul Bunyan himself.

The MIA is also offering doorbuster specials, including free admission (normally $20) to “China’s Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor’s Legacy” between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. The “Warriors” exhibition has been immensely popular, attracting over 7,000 visitors on Sunday, November 11 alone. Along with free exhibition admission, the MIA Museum Shop is offering $2 doorbuster specials for items valued at $20. No doughnuts will be on the table, but free coffee will be provided. Doors open at 6 a.m. and although the free admission ends at 7 a.m., doors stay open until 10 a.m. at which time the museum will resume regular operating hours.

Many other museum stores have member sales in December or offer special holiday-season events. The Weisman Art Museum’s WAM Shop offers “Be Dazzled” on December 5, and the Science Museum’s Explore Store offers December member discounts. Other museum stores to remember include the Walker Art Center’s with its contemporary collections of gifts, books, and jewelry; the Museum of Russian Art; and the Mill City Museum, which will feature sales on Friday and Saturday. There’s also the Twin City Model Railroad Museum (TCMRM) in Bandana Square, now offering 20% off all Thomas the Train items. The TCMRM is also currently featuring their special Night Trains exhibit, with the spectacular Christmas Train, on Friday and Saturday nights through February.

Como Park’s Garden Safari Gift Shop is open every day of the year—yes, even Thanksgiving—from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 23 and 24 are no exception, and holiday shopping for members (featuring an additional discount) starts that day and runs through December 24. Terri Scheunemann, the store’s manager, says that “every day is a good day to shop at Como”—and you also get to smell the lovely Marjorie McNeely Conservatory flowers as you shop. The American Swedish Institute has already opened their Christmas Shop full of Swedish Santas and “Saturday Candy,” a special selection of Swedish candy featured during the holiday season only. The shop and the museum open two hours early on Friday—10 a.m. rather than noon.

If unique is your beat, any of these stores will offer something to check off—or add to—a wish list. All the museum stores above have websites, too, if you’d prefer to shop in your p-jammies.

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.