Behind-the-scenes visit to the Bell Museum

Wed, Feb 8 2023, 1pm

Bell Museum of Natural History
2088 Larpenteur Avenue West
Saint Paul Campus

Join curator emeritus Don Luce and retired Professor of History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Sally Gregory Kohlstedt for an exclusive behind the scenes visit to the collections of the Bell Museum. Following our visit with Don Luce, we’ll convene at Stouts Pub nearby for refreshments and conversation. 

Professor Kohlstedt has for years developed contacts with curators of the most obscure and fascinating collections at the University of Minnesota so that she could introduce her students to these “Cabinets of Curiosity” and we’re delighted that, beginning with this event on February 8, she will make these experiences available to UMRA members.  The February event has reach our maximum attendees.

Upcoming visits to UMN “Cabinets of Curiosity”

Look for future invitations to join curious colleagues to visit several significant museums and collections on campus as we talk with curators and explore what’s behind the scenes in their exhibits and collections. While written words have been central to university life, the University of Minnesota has historically acquired meaningful objects in the arts, humanities, and sciences that complement book learning. These material collections are housed on every campus, most are accessible, but many are often largely used by specialists and not highly visible. Individually, these carefully curated objects are fascinating, while collectively they reveal the history and nature of higher education over more than a century.

Behind the curtain at the Bell

For our first outing on February 8 to the Bell Museum, recently retired Curator Don Luce will lead a tour of the museum and perhaps pull back the curtain on objects not currently on display. He was a major figure in moving the collections from the Minneapolis campus to St. Paul and largely responsible for saving the marvelous dioramas that reflect nature in Minnesota nearly a century ago. Himself an artist, Don will discuss the ways in which both art and nature have been integral to our campus natural history museum. To anticipate what we might discuss, see

This is a good opportunity for new and seasoned UMRA members to become better acquainted with each other and the extraordinary resources of the UMN. Participants are invited to meet for refreshments at a location nearby after the tour to discuss what they have seen and consider other collections on campus that might be visited in the future, such as the Wangensteen Library of Medicine and Biological Sciences and the Tretter Collection of LGTBQ+ materials.

Each tour will be limited to no more than 18 people given space limitations at these sites. The February event has reach our maximum attendees, although we look forward to seeing you at a future Cabinets of Curiosity outing.

Participants will be responsible for their own entry and parking fees, and optional food and beverage costs. Entry fee at the Bell Museum is $10 for participants 65+ years of age, or free to members of the museum. The UMRA discount QR code will work at the Bell Museum parking lot, lot 103.  After the tour we will gather at Stouts Pub, located at 1611 Larpenteur Ave W, Falcon Heights.

Questions are welcome to Sally Gregory Kohlstedt ([email protected]), Jan Morlock ([email protected]), or Cathy Lee Gierke ([email protected]). 

Upcoming Events

Event Date: October 2, 2023, at 9:30am

We will meet at the Mel-O-Glaze bakery on 28th and Minnehaha Parkway and walk to Minnehaha Falls and then back again.

Event Date: October 3, 2023, at 1pm

Some of the most valuable and rare maps in the world are held in UMN's own James Ford Bell Library, housed in Andersen Library  See .

Event Date: October 4, 2023, at 10am

The first meeting of UMRA’s Family History Interest Group for 2023–24 will feature a presentation by Marilyn DeLong about sharing family stories and learning surprising family connections. 

Event Date: October 4, 2023, at 10am

UMRA has a special opportunity to engage with the four newest members of the U of M Board of Regents on Wednesday, October 4, via Zoom. The purpose of the event is to share our perspectives as former University employees. 

Event Date: October 10, 2023, at 12:30pm

All UMRA members with an interest in photography are welcome to attend the meeting of the UMRA Photo Club on Tuesday, October 10. We welcome photographers of all abilities. Most of us are struggling amateurs. We laugh a lot and learn from sharing and talking about our pictures.

Event Date: October 16, 2023, at 9:30am

The walk along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is always changing, with many attractions being added along both sides of the river and, now, the beautiful fall colors.

Event Date: October 19, 2023, at 11am

UMRA’s workshop on Open Enrollment for U of M retiree health plans for 2024 will include a briefing on the choice between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans, by Jeff Snegosky of BCBS of Minnesota, followed by an overview of the U of M’s retiree health insurance plans, by Katie Kolodge from the Office of Human Resources.

Event Date: October 20, 2023, at 2pm

Mary Jane Towle will lead the discussion of The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.

Event Date: October 24, 2023, at 11am

To help us understand the growing movement in the U.S. to ban books, especially children’s literature, and the critical role of libraries to protect intellectual freedom, UMRA will welcome U of M Librarian Lisa Von Drasek (pictured) and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the guest speakers for our October luncheon forum at Midland Hills. 

Event Date: October 27, 2023, at 2pm

The Fourth Friday Book Club will meet from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on October 27 to discuss the life and narrative of Frederick Douglass.

Event Date: November 6, 2023, at 9:30am

Join us for a 5 mile moderately paced hike around Pleasant Lake located in the heart of North Oaks.  It takes us past some of James J. Hill’s original farm buildings as well as beautiful homes built along the lakeshore. The trail is wide, generally flat and consists of packed dirt and crushed rock. 

Event Date: November 6, 2023, at 9:40am

The documents noted for this event specify your managers and can minimize income taxes now, and estate taxes. 

Event Date: November 7, 2023, at 1pm

The material world we live in is shaped by design. While popular discussions of design typically focus on fashion and furniture, design is fundamental in art, architecture, and indeed nearly all aspects of the everyday world around us.  Goldstein Museum of Design curator Jean McElvain will demonstrate and discuss some of the fascinating and often unexpected holdings before we walk through the current gallery exhibit.

Event Date: November 27, 2023, at 9am - December 3, 2023, at 5pm

Get an insider's perspective on Santa Fe and Taos alongside local artists, exploring the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, enjoying traditional music and learning about native cultures. The deadline for reserving a space is June 2, 2023.

Event Date: December 4, 2023, at 9:30am

Please join us for an invigorating hike from The Monument located at the intersection of Mississippi RIver Blvd and Summit Avenue in St. Paul to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and back.  This hike is on paved trails, approximately 5.5 miles in length, and will be at a pace suitable to the weather.

Event Date: December 13, 2023, at 11:30am

Topics include tax changes; tax reducing moves required now and tax management in 2024 & 2025.