Bell Museum gets one last shot

The Bell Museum of Natural History’s renovation was not included in the University of Minnesota’s 2014 capital budget request, but a state legislator still plans to advocate for state money for the project.The University Board of Regents approved the 2014 request last week, which asks for about $233 million in state funding for construction projects. Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said she will exceed that request when authoring this year’s bonding bill.In addition to the six construction projects listed on the University’s request, Hausman said she will add the Bell Museum to the House’s bonding bill. It’s a request she’s been trying to fund since 2004.If passed, funding for the museum would be used to build a larger, more advanced facility and a planetarium on the University’s St. Paul campus.Hausman, who has a history of advocating for construction projects around the University, said this upcoming legislative session is the “last chance” for the project’s renovation to obtain state funding.She said because it’s her last year as chairwoman of the House Capital Investment Committee, and because the University has not shown recent interest in asking for funding for the project, this is the museum’s final shot.“At a certain point you say, ‘If it doesn’t happen this year, this is never going to happen,’” Hausman said.In the capital budget request, which will be presented to legislators in February, the University prioritized construction projects like renovating the Tate Laboratory of Physics, which calls for $56.7 million in state funding.The 2013 bonding bill, which Hausman sponsored, included $47.5 million to create a new Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota’s St. Continue Reading

Bell Museum could get new life, after almost two decades of pushing for renovations

Susan Weller spent Christmas Eve 2008 at the Bell Museum of Natural History.But the first-year museum director didn’t go to catch up on work or for a holiday party. A pipe had burst on the third floor, and the museum’s famous dioramas were in danger.“That night was supposed to be a family gathering,” she said. “And instead I was mopping water.”The museum floods often because of its antiquated 1930s-era plumbing system, one of several outdated features of the roughly 70-year-old building that puts the museum’s valuable exhibits at risk.After nearly 20 years of requests, the Bell Museum may finally receive funding to build a new 83,000-square foot facility and a 120-seat planetarium on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, included $47.5 million to be allocated for the project in her $800 million bonding bill. Continue Reading

Rail museums of the Twin Cities

We talk a lot about transportation and transit here at streets.mn. Trains are ever and always in the mix, what with Hiawatha and Central Corridor Light Rail, Northstar Commuter and Amtrak in late-stage construction or in operation — and with other lines under consideration. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Greg Lipelt—painting the light

A retrospective is a time to reflect. Greg Lipelt’s “Selections from a lifetime in art,” showing at the Frameworks Gallery from July 14 to August 25, will mark the artistic journey of one of Minnesota’s most talented painters and allow him to share his views about art and life.“That’s the spirit of this entire show,” Lipelt said. “I want to talk not just about art, but how life has left its imprint on me and my view of art.”Lipelt’s view of art has changed over the years and he has worked hard to achieve the loose, painterly style that distinguishes his oils and watercolors today. His art journey included painting signs and murals for the army in the 1960s, and working as a commercial artist from 1977 to 2002. As an illustrator, Lipelt mastered drawing and developed an eye for detail. Continue Reading

‘Long overdue’ Black museum dedicated

Roxanne Givens’ dream of a Black museum finally became a reality as the Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM) was formally dedicated last weekend. Those present for the ceremony agreed they were sharing a momentous occasion.“When Roxanne had the epiphany, I was just as excited as she was,” says Judie Carmichael Brown of the museum’s founder and acting director. Brown, herself a founding board member and public relations chair, told the MSR that an estimated 200 persons attended last Friday’s three-hour event at the former Coe mansion, which the museum board acquired in 2008, located at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 18th Street South.Master of ceremonies T. Mychael Rambo called the event the “Who’s Who of everybody,” including as it did local and national politicians, business leaders and community folk. It was blessed by four local ministers: Bishop Richard Howell (Shiloh Temple), Rev. Dr. Mildred Cox (St. Mark’s Cathedral), Rev. Earl Miller (Progressive Baptist), and Rev. Joseph Baring (St. Continue Reading