Fall 2018
Gifts at Work

The Bell Museum


The James Ford Bell Web of Life Gallery takes visitors on a journey through Minnesota’s three major habitats. Supported by Ken Powell and Wendy Bennett, it travels through the north woods, the prairie, and the big woods.

Right: A full-scale woolly mammoth is a new addition to the permanent exhibits. The mammoth is ensconced in the Pleistocene Minnesota diorama—the ice age view of the state.

Photo: Chris Gaffer


The north woods biome features plants and animals that have adapted to Minnesota’s harsh winters and short summers. It was funded with a gift from Jerome and Patricia Hartlaub, who are also Bell volunteers.

Right: A family takes in a classic north woods scene, a lynx on the hunt for its primary prey—the snowshoe hare. It is one of the museum's original dioramas, reinterpreted in a new 360-dgree case.

Photo: Joe Szurszewski


The prairie and savanna biome, made possible by the Douglas and Wendy Dayton Foundation, includes some of the Bell’s famous dioramas showing plant and animal life in springtime. The dioramas were created by the legendary Francis Lee Jaques and Walter Breckenridge.

Right: The exhibits in the prairie and savanna biome feature Minnesota under the bright sun of spring into early fall. Wildflowers and grasses bloom and set seed. Animals use this time of abundance to produce offspring, forming great flocks and herds.

Photo: James Steinkamp


Sushma Reddy joined the U this fall as the Breckenridge Chair of Ornithology, overseeing the museum’s collection of more than 46,000 bird specimens as well as research into avian life. “This is a real honor,” she says. “The Bell has a special place in ornithology history.”

Photo: Natalie Battaglia


Students like Sowmya Narayan serve as interpretive guides, teaching children and adults about the natural world. A gift from Jennifer L. Martin provides for K-12 educational programs at the Bell.

Right: In the Touch & See lab, visitors get hands-on access to natural history specimens. Here, curator Sharon Jansa shows off scientific specimens to a group of students.

Photo: Joe Szurszewski

After nearly three years of planning and construction, the new Bell Museum opened in July. The $79 million facility was built with funding from the state, the U, and private donors, including a lead gift from the James Ford Bell Foundation. Minnesota’s official natural history museum, the Bell is home to the 120-seat Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium, a Touch and See Lab, newly restored dioramas, and exhibits featuring some of its 1.2 million specimens.

Photography by Steve Niedorf

Follow Goldy Gopher through the new Bell Museum.