Shock and Awe (I mean Ow, that smarts)

We drove north through Iowa from Kansas City, passing several wind farms on the way to Minnesota. Did you know that Iowa is second only to Texas in wind power generation? Way to go, Iowa! I watched the turbines spin slowly under the coming wolf moon while the shadow of our van lead the way. It mesmerized me until dark.

For a more comprehensive depiction, then you must also close your eyes and imagine the peeving dialogue of “The Smurfs” movie and the cloying smell of overripe bananas.

We were all ready for this to be our last day trapped for hours at a time in this van.

Our hotel, the last one for this trip, was close to the Mall of America only because the rates were good and the territory familiar. I’d had enough MOA on my birthday trip.

No roller coasters or water slides today, kids.

The visit this time would be to The Bakken Museum. Here is Wikipedia’s attempt to explain what this place is:

A Library and Museum of Electricity in Life and known in the past as the Medtronic Museum of Electricity in Life, located on the shores of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States, is the world’s only library and museum devoted to medical electricity. Focused on scholars and on young people, The Bakken educates visitors about the history of electricity and electromagnetism from 1200 A. D. to the present.

If you are left wondering what to expect after this wordy explanation -join the club. What we discovered was beyond our expectations, however. Seeing the mansion itself was a treat, but the best part was – the shock and awe!

Who doesn’t want to get an electric shock through an antique “medical” device?

Our kids sure did! Before they would try it they cautiously watched other children zap themselves silly. Kailas’ hair ended up looking like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical outlet.

Sagan was more interested in playing Mind Ball. In this game electrical receptors are strapped to your forhead. The object of the game is to keep your brainwaves low (relaxed) which causes the ball to roll toward your opponent. Both kids sat still and quiet, concentrating on finding their inner peace. All I can say is wow! They need to market this game to parents – I would certainly buy one!

The museum’s collection and the way it was presented was exceptional. It included an antique theremin, the first electronic musical instrument. There was a video lesson on how to play the thing so Mark tried his hand (so to speak) at it:

Kailas is making a 60,000-volt spark with this Wimshurst generator. There were also lots of hands on tools for kids to discover the relationship between electricity and magnetism.

Two huge classrooms and a workshop were part of this complex. Inventions created by kids were on display in one of the rooms.

The first time I walked through the entire building (two floors) my concentration was on the exhibits. The second time I took in the architecture; I just love all of the detailed woodworking and trim.

There was something shocking (yes, literally) to see in almost every room. Here Sagan charges up various tubes with static electricity. Ow! Don’t touch me!

Kailas did very well checking out the exhibits on his own. As you can see, there weren’t a lot of people there that morning so we had the place all to ourselves.



At the end of our visit we sat through a twelve minute recorded multi-media presentation that “brought Frankenstein’s laboratory to life.”

You can be sure that Kailas did not set foot in that room.

It was worth viewing only because Sagan got a little background on the author, Mary Shelley. She found that to be very interesting (but the actual presentation was unconvincing).

Horror just isn’t my thing. And neither is shocking myself on purpose. But I love this quaint and quirky museum!

Then it was back to the van where my tush has sat on this 3,300 mile round trip. Somewhere amongst the suitcases full of dirty clothes, tents, sleeping bag and toys were our heavy Wisconsin coats. It was time to dig them out- for we were homeward bound!

Note: You can find other interesting and out-of-the-norm places to visit at the Atlas Obscura web site.

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About marlashane

Artist. Explorer. Freethinker. Mother of two children.
This entry was posted in Exploring the USA, Minnesota, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Shock and Awe (I mean Ow, that smarts)

  1. We were there over the summer and it was CROWDED. You were really fortunate to have the place to yourselves!

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