Media Kit

In this Media Kit:


Weather Permitting, the Minnesota History Center's newest exhibit, gives visitors the chance to experience the state's challenging climate, from surviving and celebrating its bone-chilling winters to basking on the sunny shores of its 10,000 lakes.

Weather Permitting draws upon the Minnesota Historical Society's collections and an ingenious array of environmental settings and cleverly clothed mannequins to present the ordeals, rituals and memories of Minnesota weather. With artifacts, photographs, multi-media shows and hands-on activities, the exhibit is an exploration of the weather's impact on our lives now and through history.

"Doing an inside exhibit on weather has been a challenge," says curator Loris Sofia Gregory. "But the topic seemed a natural for the History Center because we live in one of the most extreme climates in the U.S. The weather affects everything about our lives."

To many, winter is Minnesota's defining season. One of the first things visitors will see when they enter the exhibit is a scene familiar to all those who have lived through a Minnesota snow storm: a car stuck in a snow bank. On the car's back window is a continually running film about Minnesota's winter ordeals and frosty fun.

In "Land of 10,000 Frozen Lakes," visitors can peek into a vintage ice-fishing house and explore the frigid charms of ice fishing through several media pieces, including recorded observations on the sport from Garrison Keillor and Kevin Kling.

The exhibit also celebrates the pleasures of a Minnesota summer. In "Too Hot, Went to Lake," visitors will see a 1956 model "Falls Flyer," a molded fiberglass boat designed by Paul Larson of Larson Boat Works in Little Falls, mounted high over their heads. Larson was inspired by his high-school classmate Charles Lindbergh's first airplane in designing the 14-foot boat with a twin cockpit and round hull. Visitors also will see Minnesotan Ralph Samuelson's original water-skis. Samuelson is credited with inventing the sport in 1922.

"Weather Permitting has allowed us to be playful with history, to poke fun at the unique culture of Minnesota and our ability to weather our climate," says Gregory, "but our climate often can be more challenging than shoveling out the driveway or trying to keep cool on 90-degree day." For example, in the section called "Get to the Basement!", a recreated 1960s-era home basement, a powerful multi-media show focuses on the human experiences and emotions evoked by a series of tornadoes that struck Fridley in May 1965.

"I think visitors will feel a range of emotions as they explore the collage of weather experiences over time, from enjoying the celebrations to surviving the ordeals," Gregory says. "Even though we are constantly preoccupied by the weather," she adds, "it is an elusive topic. It is a captivating mystery stemming from our fascination with the fact that as much as we try, we can't control the weather but human nature keeps us trying."

The History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information call 651-296-6126, 1-800-657-3773 or TTY 651-282-6073.

The Society's calendar of events is posted on the Internet at The web site also has information about all of the Society's programs and historic sites.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849 to preserve and share Minnesota history. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota's past through museum exhibits, extensive libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.

Funding for this exhibit provided by:

  • Andersen Corporation
  • Andersen Foundation
  • Bayport Foundation
  • HRK Foundation
  • Hugh J. Andersen Foundation
  • Katherine B. Andersen Fund of the Saint Paul Foundation

Promotional support provided by:

  • Mpls.St. Paul Magazine


George and Jeanette Gru were among the 1.5 million people who visited the St. Paul Winter Carnival's Centennial Ice Palace on Lake Phalen in 1986. The retired couple, of Roseville, are stained glass hobbyists. They were so impressed by the grandeur of the lighted structure that they were inspired to build a replica out of stained glass.

With original plans obtained from the palace's designers, Ellerbe Associates Inc., the Grus began their work on March 1, 1986. Referring to their working style, Jeanette told the Star Tribune in 1992: "George plans the whole project and cuts the glass. Then we both solder."

More than 3,050 hours, 10,180 pieces of glass and 1,270 lights later, the model was completed. The replica is scaled to three-eighths of an inch to one foot. The Grus donated the ice palace to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1993.

When the Weather Permitting exhibit team decided to include the stained glass replica of the ice palace in the exhibit, they turned to Gary Lyon to assist with the electrical wiring. Gary had worked with the Grus on the original lighting of the palace in 1986. Now retired himself, Gary and his wife, Gayle, also of Roseville, worked with the team to replace broken lights, update the wiring and get the palace back in working order.

"To find the original designers of the lighting system and for them to restore it so the model could be displayed in its original state has been one of the highlights of my career at the Minnesota Historical Society," says exhibit lighting designer Rich Rummel.


Ice is an expensive commodity in parts of Africa, so when Somali immigrant Adan Jama called his children to let them know how he was coping with his first Minnesota winter, he got little sympathy from them about his bad fall on the ice.

"They said, 'Are you crazy? Ice we buy for one dollar, two dollars? You fell down on ice just like that? Are you crazy? Don't tell us that. You're staying in a very good place. ...Do you suppose you can send it to us to make some money?'"

Jama's recollections and those of other immigrants are part of the Weather Permitting exhibit at the Minnesota History Center. Curator Loris Sofia Gregory didn't have to go too far back in history to portray the shock that many new residents feel when they encounter their first Minnesota winter. She did her research among Minnesotans who have been here only a year or two. Jama, for example, moved to the state in August 2000. His reaction, along with others highlighted in the exhibit, shows how coping with winter weather remains a shared experience, even as the state's population continually changes.

The creative exhibit design for this part of Weather Permitting uses the immigrants' quotes on the side of a bus stop, with mannequins bundled up in a range of winter clothes, from long underwear to snowmobile suits to buffalo coats.

Jovito Valbuena from Venezuela, who arrived in Minnesota in October 2000, just ahead of a long, cold winter, said: "I tried to build a snowman with my hands, without my gloves. Oh! I feel the hurt in my hands very strong. That was when the temperature was 20 degrees. The next week, it was 12, 13 below zero. Oh, I never in my life have felt cold very strong in all my body."

Amin Umer of Ethiopia, who arrived in February 1999, had difficulty adjusting to the many layers of clothing necessary to staying warm. "Whenever I think about going out, I say, 'I have to wear all these clothes I have. I have to wear it from inside on top another and on top another. It comes another on top.' The same thing with the kids... it's a lot of work."

Images available for download

1986 St. Paul Winter Carnival Centennial Ice Palace George and Jeanette Gru's replica of the 1986 St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace is the result of more than 3,050 hours of work. Scaled to three-eighths of an inch to one foot, the replica was constructed with 10,180 pieces of glass and more than 50 pounds of solder. It is lit by 1,270 lights. The Grus donated the ice palace to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1993.
Click here for a full TIFF image of 1986 St. Paul Winter Carnival Centennial Ice Palace
(2048 x 1536 pixels at 300 dpi)
Ice-fishing lures Spearfishing has been part of American Indian life for centuries. Shown are spearfishing decoys from several time periods. The spear dates to the early 20th century. In the foreground, visitors can watch a video presentation about the wide range of ice-fishing styles and celebrations in Minnesota.
Click here for a full TIFF image of Ice-fishing lures
(2048 x 1536 pixels at 300 dpi)
Transtop Minnesota's citizens have bundled up in a variety of ways to fight the cold. In the foreground, a 1940s-era women relies on a sturdy storm coat and scarf. In the background are a child's coat, 1899; a man's buffalo coat, 1880; and Norwegian bachelor farmer Selmer Sanglow's enduring union suit, hand-patched by his sister Anna over a more than 20-year period from the early 1960s through the 1980s.
Click here for a full TIFF image of Transtop
(2048 x 1536 pixels at 300 dpi)
Whirligigs Wind generators were widely used in rural areas before the arrival of electricity in the 1930s and '40s. Shown are Dean Lucker's whimsical creations which evoke the era.
Click here for a full TIFF image of Whirligigs
(2048 x 1536 pixels at 300 dpi)