For immediate release
Reintroducing Historic Fort Snelling
After more than two years of rehabilitation and improvements, Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark reopens to the public year-round on May 28
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) is pleased to announce the grand reopening of a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling. On Memorial Day Weekend, the public will be welcomed to a new visitor center inside a rehabilitated 1904 cavalry barracks, stunning river overlooks, Indigenous landscapes with native plantings as well as expanded interpretive spaces, scenic walking paths, enhanced accessibility, parking and more. With the visitor center now open from the fall to spring, the site will be open to the public year-round.
“Our guiding vision for the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization has been to inspire a better future by providing a place to learn, share and connect to all of the complex stories that shape history in Minnesota,” said Kent Whitworth MNHS director and CEO. “Historic Fort Snelling has been a site of diplomacy and conflict; pride and tragedy; service and sacrifice. Today, the site reveals more of this remarkable history with spaces for visitors to study, reflect, connect and learn.”
During Memorial Day Weekend, visitors are invited to see all the new spaces, learn and reflect. Young, native plants are taking root in the savanna, prairie, woodland and wet meadow landscapes. At the fort, live musical performances, an 1890s mechanized infantry bicycle demonstration, a Civil War cannon demonstration as well as a World War I baseball demonstration that shows how soldiers trained to use gas masks, bring recent history to life.
Work continues this summer and beyond on engaging new programming at the History Under The Floor Boards exhibit, expanded musical and theatrical performances, and explorations of the site’s changing landscape throughout the seasons, especially during the winter when the site has normally been closed to visitors.
Many Voices, Many Stories, One Place
The Historic Fort Snelling revitalization project included removal of a failing 1980s visitor center and the creation of the dynamic new Plank Museum & Visitor Center. The modern amenities in the new Visitor Center include meeting rooms and classrooms, exhibit spaces and galleries, plus accessible restrooms, a museum store, and grab-and-go food and beverage.
The revitalized landscape provides opportunities for outdoor learning plus improved parking, wayfinding and accessibility. New river overlooks, paved and unpaved pathways, a picnic area and places to reflect bring more depth to the cultural understanding of Dakota people and other Native Americans as well as all those who served and sacrificed, toiled and triumphed. The reopening represents the culmination of $34.5 million in improvements, $19.5 provided by State of Minnesota appropriations and $15 million in private funding.
A new interpretive plan was developed with community partners and include more histories of Dakota, Ojibwe and other Native Americans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, women, soldiers, veterans and more.
Where Complex Histories Converge
Historic Fort Snelling means many things to many people. History shared by many voices is represented in new exhibits and spaces. From the homeland of the Dakota long before the Fort existed, to the memories of World War II veterans who mustered out there, Historic Fort Snelling holds meaning and memories that are at once stirring, powerful and complex.
The Fort was the site of a concentration camp for 1,600 Dakota following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Federal Army officers enslaved African Americans, including Dred and Harriet Scott, within the walls of the Fort in a free territory. The same Fort also launched the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment among 25,000 soldiers who fought against slavery in the Civil War.
Fort Snelling served as an induction center for more than 300,000 soldiers in World War II. It was also the home of the Military Intelligence Service Language School where Japanese Americans, many whose families were held in domestic concentration camps, used language skills to help win the war.
Major public funding for the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization was provided by the state of Minnesota in addition to private support from many donors including Raymond D. Plank, Ruth and John Huss, Eugene C. and Gail V. Sit Foundation and Sit Investment Associates Foundation.
Location and Hours, more at www.mnhs.org/fortsnelling
Historic Fort Snelling is located at state Highways 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, 200 Tower Avenue, St. Paul, 55111.
Memorial Weekend, May 28 - 30, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
May 31 - Sept. 5, Wednesdays - Sundays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (open July 4, closed Labor Day); Sept. 6 - Oct. 31, Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; and,
Nov. 1 - April 30, 2023, Visitor Center only Thursdays - Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Admission and Parking
$12 for Adults; $10 Seniors (65+), College students (w/ID) and Active military; $8 Children ages 5-17; Free admission to Children age 4 and under, MNHS members, Native Americans and Veterans and their family. Parking is $6 and $4 for MNHS members.
Health and Safety
Protocols designed to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 can be viewed on the health and safety procedures page of each site’s website, which can be found on our visit page. Masks are encouraged while indoors at all MNHS sites and museums. For more information, visit our website at mnhs.org/covid-19.
About Historic Fort Snelling
Historic Fort Snelling, Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark, resides on Dakota homeland known as Bdote, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The restored 1820s fort and new visitor center present the stories of those who crossed paths here—from the Dakota, Ojibwe, and enslaved people, to fur traders, immigrants, soldiers and veterans.
About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.