Summer Exhibits Shine in the Cities

By Erica Wacker

Expect to hear squeals when Barbies, bugs and dinosaurs invade the Minneapolis-St. Paul area this summer. Each one is the subject of a new exhibit at an area attraction, and along with some outdoor art installations and history exhibits, they’re poised to be among the season’s many highlights.

Child in the Barbie Dreamhouse in the Mall of America
Photo by Mark Serota

At Mall of America in Bloomington, “The Barbie Dreamhouse Experience” brings the iconic doll’s pink mansion to life for Barbie fans of all ages. The space features a colorful kitchen with interactive cupcake stations, virtual elevators, an endless closet and shoe room, makeup studio, and fashion show area with outfits and a runway for guests to strut their stuff. Food and drinks, birthday party space and, of course, Barbie dolls and accessories, are also available.

Barbie will have to share the spotlight with Mr. Potato Head, Gumby and Hot Wheels in the Minnesota History Center’s tribute to “Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.” Opening May 24, the exhibit will explore the stories behind these nostalgic toys via re-created living rooms for each decade. Also at the St. Paul museum, visitors can take a tour of the Twin Cities African-American community through the photographs of Charles Chamblis.

Thirteen extra-large, animatronic bugs are the stars of the Minnesota Zoo’s new exhibit, “Big Bugs!,” opening Memorial Day weekend in Apple Valley. The bugs, which include spiders, grasshoppers, bumblebees and ants, move through the use of pneumatics, and some are interactive, like the bombardier beetle that sprays water. The exhibit will teach visitors about the lives of these fascinating creatures and the vital roles they play in nature.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, adjacent to the Walker Art Center near downtown Minneapolis, is bringing back its popular artist-designed mini golf course, this time with a full 18 holes. Ten new designs will join eight returning holes; each one is unique and created by a Minnesota-based artist, including architects, engineers and furniture designers. The course will be open May 22 through September.

Dinosaurs Science Museum origGet up close and personal with a newly discovered breed of dinosaurs at the Science Museum of Minnesota. “Ultimate Dinosaurs” features 20 dinosaur specimens from South America, Africa and Madagascar, which evolved in isolation from those found in North America. Virtual technology brings these massive skeletons to life in new ways, and an accompanying film is showing in the museum’s Omnitheater. The St. Paul museum is the exhibit’s second U.S. stop; it runs through Aug. 24.

More than 20 contemporary sculptures now call the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska home, where they are artfully integrated into the natural setting. To see them, follow the walkways leading up to the grove of Kentucky coffee trees that encircle the arboretum’s highest viewpoint. The sculptures were donated by a local couple, who have been collecting artwork from around the world since the 1960s.