Museums Serve Up Food History from Spam to Green Giant

By Explore Minnesota

It’s not surprising that Minnesota—part of America’s corn and grain belt—has unique museums and sites devoted to food, glorious food!

The Spam Museum, which re-opened in a new location in downtown Austin in April 2016, celebrates the unique, canned meat product that rose to prominence as a staple for troops and allies in World War II. Spam was invented in Austin, Minn., (“Spam Town USA”) and continues to be made there. The Spam Museum, open daily with free admission, tells the interesting story of how this brand became a global icon. Check out the seven main galleries, three of them developed for the new location, Spam recipes, and browse the gift shop.

Mill City MuseumMill City Museum, built into historic flour mill ruins on Minneapolis’s Mississippi riverfront, tells the story of the flour industry, the river, and the city. Take the Flour Tower 8-story elevator show, which is truly explosive. View the film, Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat, co-created and narrated by humorist Kevin Kling. See spectacular rooftop views of the Mississippi River, St. Anthony Falls, and Stone Arch Bridge from the observation deck. Visit the museum store for city history and cooking merchandise.

In southern Minnesota, the Le Sueur Museum boasts a collection that gives the complete history of the Green Giant Company. The canned vegetable company was founded in Le Sueur in 1903 and continues to grow vegetables in the Minnesota River Valley. To see the impressive,55-foot-tall, toga-wearing Jolly Green Giant statue, drive south of Le Sueur about 65 miles to Blue Earth, where this icon stands.

The Oliver H. Kelley Farm, now a state historic site, is a monument to its namesake, who staked his claim here in 1850 and then taught himself the latest farming techniques from agricultural journals. Today, the Kelley Farm is a living history museum, where staff in period clothing perform the daily farm activities typical of the 1800s in the fields, barnyard and farm home. This site offers visitors a chance to experience life on a traditional farm and appreciate Minnesota’s strong agricultural roots. The Oliver H. Kelley Farm is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.