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Mill City Museum – Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum - Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum – Virtual Tour

The Mill City Museum focuses on the founding and growth of Minneapolis, especially the flour milling and other industries that used hydropower from Saint Anthony Falls.

The museum opened in 2003, built in the ruins of a mill complex that dates back to the 1870s, on the banks of the Mississippi River.

The unique location of the museum is also its centerpiece exhibit, which is the multistory Flour Tower. A freight elevator services different floors of the building to explore the workings of a flour mill.

The museum features the history of Minneapolis, flour milling machinery, a water lab, and a baking lab.

The first “Washburn A Mill” was constructed in 1874 and declared the largest flour mill in the world. In 1878, a spark ignited airborne flour dust, creating an explosion that demolished the “Washburn A” and killed 18 workers.

The ensuing fire destroyed five other mills and became known as the Great Mill Disaster.  To prevent the buildup of combustible flour dust, ventilation systems, and other precautionary devices were installed in mills throughout the country.

By 1880 a new “Washburn A Mill” opened, designed again to be the largest flour mill in the world. The mill, along with the other mills powered by St. Anthony Falls, contributed significantly to Minneapolis’s development. 

After World War I, flour production in Minneapolis began to decline as flour milling technology was no longer reliant on water power. The mill was shut down in 1965, along with eight other of the oldest mills operated by General Mills.

In 1991 a fire nearly destroyed the old mill, but the Minnesota Historical Society announced plans to construct a milling museum within the ruins. A new building was built with the ruin walls of the 1880 “Washburn A Mill.”

As much of the original building as was possible was retained, including turbine pits, railroad tracks, a train shed, and two engine houses.

Mill City Museum - Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Highlights of the Mill City Museum

  • The ruins of the Washburn “A” Mill
  • A millstone used in previous flour milling processes
  • Audio of the people who worked in the Washburn A Mill is heard throughout the exhibits
  • Surviving Mill machinery and equipment interpreted by staff
  • The ninth-floor observation deck to view St. Anthony Falls
  • The Gold Medal Flour sign is lit up at night atop the adjoining grain elevator
  • A former competitor Pillsbury A-Mill is topped with a sign reading “Pillsbury’s Best Flour” across the river 
  • Artworks by local artists such as JoAnn Verburg
  • Mural art and art glass collage exhibits
  • A 15-foot (4.6 m) Bisquick box – a pre-mixed baking mix sold by General Mills under its Betty Crocker brand
  • Sculpture exhibits

Mill City Museum - Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mill City Museum

  • Museum:          Mill City Museum
  • City:                  Minneapolis
  • State:                Minnesota
  • Country:           United States
  • Established:     2003
  • Type:                History Museum
  • Location:          704 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Mill City Museum – Map

Mill City Museum – 360 Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum – 360 Virtual Tour

Mill City Museum

New York Museums – Virtual Tours

Mill City Museum

Washington, D.C. Museums – Virtual Tours

Mill City Museum

Museums in Museums in Minneapolis – Saint Paul

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“Beauty will save the world.”
– Dostoevsky

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Photo Credit: Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0); Runner1928 / CC BY-SA (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0); Gabriel Vanslette / CC BY (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

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