North Dakota's premier museum, the State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck, has been undergoing an expansion and renovation so significant that the museum has been closed since late 2012. Two new galleries have now opened to the public and when they heard about the Heritage Center opening, my daughters wanted to be first in line! We weren't first, but we made it there on the third day of open doors. Was it a good experience? In the words of my daughter a day later, "Can we pleeeeease go back to the Heritage Center?!"
The new galleries feature North Dakota and Geologic Time, or read DINOSAURS that get reactions like this (below) and Early People.
To say that these galleries are tantalizing for all ages is an understatement. There are exhibits with interpretation that really give backstories and explanations ... for those who have time to read them. I think I'll come back and spend more time myself. My girls were so intrigued they literally ran from exhibit to exhibit. (As I whispered, don't run.)
My oldest daughter said her favorite display was the T-Rex and Triceratops exhibit complete with an interactive screen showing battles!
My youngest daughter said her favorite display was the buffalo in the Early Peoples gallery. Although personally, I think she thought the "What Does a Bison Smell Like" panel was the coolest and her favorite was probably shopping the Gift Shop!
One of the most remarkable things about this experience is that it's free. Every time I say (or write) that I can hardly believe it. This awesome attraction is free and open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m., weekdays. How can free be so valuable?! Be sure to put this attraction on your travel list ... and plan to stay a while. When we were there I overheard a gentleman on the phone explaining they were still in Bismarck ... but would be back on the road in a couple of hours. But the great part is, if you don't have a couple of hours on your trip, this museum is self-guided, so you can stay a little while or a long time. And enjoy!!