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: April 15, 2024, at 9:30am

Join us for a 4 to 5 mile hike at one of the most popular parks in the West Metro, Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington.  It is located at the north end of Hyland Lake Park Reserve at 8737 East Bush Lake Road in Bloomington.  This trail is mostly dirt and grass with some paved areas.  Enjoy the park's wildlife and celebrate Tax Day with your UMRA hiking friends!

Event Date: April 15, 2024, at 10am

UMN Technology Commercialization facilitates the transfer of UMN innovation beyond the research lab by helping our diverse researchers in development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth, and generate revenue to support the University's mission.

Event Date: April 16, 2024, at 11am

How did children’s mental health become a public health crisis? How can you tell the difference between developmentally appropriate misbehavior and behavior that needs professional intervention? For answers to these and other questions, we invited Sarah Jerstad, clinical director of psychological services at Children's Minnesota, to be our guest speaker for UMRA’s April 16 workshop. 

Event Date: April 19, 2024, at 2pm

Joni Mitchell will lead the discussion of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne when the UMRA book club meets via Zoom at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 19.

Event Date: April 23, 2024, at 11am

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has attracted substantial debate recently because it can be used in many contexts, including educational settings to do things such as answer exam questions and write papers. But what is generative AI? And how can we know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing? Law School Professor Daniel Schwarcz will enlighten us during UMRA’s Luncheon Forum on April 23.

Event Date: April 24, 2024, at 10am

UMRA’s spring Armchair Traveler Program from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 24, will take us to South Korea with Marilyn DeLong and to Germany with Lynn C. Anderson. Please mark your calendars and save the date. 

Event Date: April 26, 2024, at 2pm

Silk Parachute, an anthology of essays and the 40th of 44 published books by author John McPhee, will be the topic of discussion when UMRA’s Fourth Friday Book Club meets via Zoom from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CDT on April 26.

Event Date: May 6, 2024, at 9:30am

We are so fortunate to have former Arboretum Director and UMRA member, Peter Moe lead this approx 3.7 mile hike at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum!  We will meet on the welcoming terrace and travel through the Arboretum's Display Gardens, Sensory Garden, Woodland Wildflower Garden,  Shade Tree Exhibit, Tall Grass Prairie, Rhododendron Garden, 1920 Red Barn and the Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center, Sphagnum Bog and Green Heron Pond, Display Gardens and many other gardens and plant collections. 

Event Date: May 6, 2024, at 12:45pm

This session will continue the discussion begun in the May 8, 2023 session.  See that article for details.

Event Date: June 14, 2024, at 7:10pm

UMRA will be celebrating U of M Days with the Alumni Association.  The Minnesota Twins will be playing the Oakland Athletics on Friday evening, June 14, 7:10 PM.  

Event Date: June 17, 2024, at 11am

Picnic under the covered, open-air Como pavilion, gaze at the water, spy some birds, catch up with friends and former colleagues, and meet new members. We’ll have lunch with plenty of time for visiting and then compete in teams as we are challenged by our Quiz master(s)!

Event Date: June 24, 2024, at 8am

Healthy aging, mindfulness, fighting ageism, and more will be the focus of the third annual Age-Friendly University Day to be held on the U of M Twin Cities campus.