Design Work, Program Development Get Underway to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 29, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3148,
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3140,

Design Work, Program Development Get Underway to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

Project remains on track for 2020 bicentennial while $34 million request goes before the state legislature.

The Minnesota Historical Society is moving forward to ensure that a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling is ready in time for its bicentennial in 2020.

MNHS is continuing to seek $34 million in state support for a much-needed revitalization and renovation of Historic Fort Snelling. Governor Dayton has included this request in his capital budget recommendations since 2015, and MNHS is grateful for his support. MNHS is continuing to build support in the legislature and will advocate for its inclusion in a 2017 bonding bill.

The revitalization project will create a new era for Historic Fort Snelling, where essential stories of thousands of years of history will be told in preserved historic buildings amid restored natural beauty.

“The need is critical,” says MNHS Director and CEO D. Stephen Elliott. “The current visitor center’s chronic, serious maintenance issues, coupled with the site’s confusing navigation, challenges our ability to present programs and serve the public. Historic Fort Snelling is the state’s first National Historic Landmark, home to Minnesota’s oldest structure and residence, and part of the state’s network of historic sites. While maintaining the state’s infrastructure is prudent, ensuring the care of Minnesota’s irreplaceable cultural heritage for future generations is a pressing priority—and getting Fort Snelling in shape for its 2020 bicentennial must be a 2017 funding imperative.”

In order to keep the project moving forward, MNHS is using non-state funds to hire Leo A Daly architects and Mortenson Construction to begin schematic design this summer.

MNHS is committed to developing Historic Fort Snelling’s programs in collaboration with community partners. This winter MNHS invited Dakota people from the MNHS Indian Advisory Committee, other educators and community leaders from the Twin Cities, and reservations outside of Minnesota to form a Dakota Community Council. The Council has met twice in 2017 and will continue to meet through 2020 and beyond. Additional collaborative initiatives are  underway with historians, Ojibwe people, African Americans, Japanese Americans and veterans groups.

These collaborations are part of a new interpretive approach that expands the diverse stories of the people who crossed paths here—from the Dakota, Ojibwe and enslaved people to immigrants, soldiers and fur traders.

Find out more about the project at and join the discussion on social media at #HFS2020.

About Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling is located near the MSP airport at the intersection of Hwys. 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Originally a frontier outpost, the fort and surrounding buildings were later used for military training from the Civil War through World War II. Human history in the area dates back at least 10,000 years. Historic Fort Snelling is Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.  

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.        

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.