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Night at the Museum: Wow Guests with These Unique Twin Cities Venues

Memorable wedding celebrations are held after-hours at Twin Cities museums.
By: 
Abbie Burgess

Museums make amazing—and unexpected—wedding venues. The day can unfold amid works of art, historic artifacts and stunning architecture. Make your wedding unforgettable by celebrating it at one of these eight Minnesotan treasures.

American Swedish Institute

At the cultural American Swedish Institute, weddings are held both in the castle-like historic Turnblad Mansion and the contemporary Nelson Cultural Center. With only one event per night, weddings can span both spaces. The mansion accommodates intimate ceremonies of 60 people by the fireplace or in the salon. The 2012 addition houses Larson Hall, with room for 400 guests, and an outdoor terrace.

Outdoor weddings can take place on the steps of the mansion or in the courtyard. Cocktail hour is often held in the historic building. “Guests can view the mansion at their leisure during the social hour,” suggests Lisa Krueger, director of catering.

Catering is handled by Slate & Stone, the on-site kitchen. While most couples order traditional wedding fare, the kitchen can prepare a Nordic menu as well as ethnic cuisine from other regions. Apart from the delicious food, it’s the architecture that people will remember. “Guests are amazed. A lot of people are unfamiliar with this little gem in the city,” says Krueger.


(Photo featuring the American Swedish Institute by Shuttersmack Photography)

Science Museum of Minnesota

Wedding guests will love free access to the museum’s 8½ acres of exhibits, which will keep them fascinated in between the ceremony and reception. The collection provides an unforgettable setting for wedding festivities and photography.

The museum’s two event spaces both include river-view terraces. Discovery Hall boasts panoramic views of the Mississippi River and can seat up to 200. Elements Café on the sixth floor can seat 300. The museum’s green initiative campaign with recyclables and solar energy makes every event sustainable.

“The main reason people book us is the view,” says Jennifer Ernst-George, event sales manager. While an interest in the sciences draws some couples to the venue, the museum has something for everyone, she says: “It can be fun, it can be elegant. It’s conducive to a lot of different vibes.”

Weisman Art Museum

Overlooking the Mississippi River, the metallic exterior of the Weisman is eye-catching—and so are its sweeping views of the Minneapolis skyline. Event rental includes access to the art galleries and private terraces. Ceremonies take place with modern art as the backdrop in the museum’s permanent collection gallery.

“We are niche in size. Our max is 160 for a sit-down dinner because of the unique shape and feel of our space,” says Liz Grosjean, events coordinator. The Dolly Fiterman Riverview Gallery provides stunning views for guests to enjoy during dinner, and the William G. Shepherd Room opens up to create a dance floor. “The space itself is rather unique and we’re happy to work with outside-the-box ideas,” says Grosjean.

Located just north of downtown Minneapolis on the University of Minnesota campus, an attached parking ramp allows easy access to the museum in all weather.

 
(Photos featuring the Weisman Art Museum by La Vie Photography, planner Marsha Golob, Magical Memories)

Bakken Museum

Located in Uptown Minneapolis across from Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun), the Bakken Museum operates in a historic mansion called West Winds. Built in 1929 with Gothic-Tudor influences, it still maintains many of its original features.

Weddings typically take place in the courtyard beneath a pergola near a fountain, with dinner on the Green Roof and dancing outside or in the Great Hall. The grounds offer guests the chance to enjoy an outdoor wedding reminiscent of the English countryside without leaving the city. The property, located on nearly 3 acres near a large wetland, includes the Florence Bakken Medicinal Garden, the Dakota Native Plants Garden, and the Heart Healthy Garden.

Rentals can include the entire mansion and outdoor spaces, with a capacity of 100 for dinner. “We provide everything from intimate experiences to full-mansion fêtes,” says Angela Julin, manager of events and public operations. Museum weddings include general admission to the exhibits.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Brides are drawn to Mia for its elegance and old-world charm—and the chance to rub shoulders with the impressive art collection. Couples can mix and match event spaces to create their ideal event for up to 300 guests. For outdoor ceremonies, Target Park (a green space within the Mia campus) features a pavilion and oak-lined pathway for the processional.

In the heart of the classic part of the building, the second-floor corridor’s fountain and skylit rotunda is a gorgeous space for a wedding. Private gallery access is part of the wedding package, allowing guests to dine and dance among world-renowned paintings and sculpture. “Making merry and being in a museum don’t seem to be complementary things, but at a wedding you can play and party at the museum,” says Michelle Klein, head of business development and sales.

Add a guided tour, scavenger hunt or personalized shopping at the gift store to enhance the event. Couples receive a complimentary museum membership to remember their special day.

Mill City Museum

The largest flour mill in the world once stood at the site of this museum, and the architecturally stunning ruins have been preserved, visible in the courtyard. The renovated building brings modern steel, brick and wood to this Minnesota icon and National Historic Landmark.

“It is truly a phoenix risen from the ashes,” says Jason Brown-Hoesing, senior marketing manager of the museum’s culinary partner, D’Amico Catering. “The character of the flour mill can be seen throughout the space, such as the original train tracks on the interior.”

The museum can host up to 250 seated guests indoors or in the courtyard. The wedding couple also has access to the Observation Deck for photos overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls. Rich in the region’s history, Mill City Museum is the ideal setting for couples beginning their own special story.


(Photo featuring the Mill City Museum by Vick Photography)

Walker Art Center

Make your wedding an artful celebration at one of the Twin Cities’ unique event venues. A wedding at the Walker provides photo-worthy modern art and sculpture. With Spoonbridge and Cherry, one of the city’s iconic landmarks, this wedding venue is thoroughly Minnesotan yet splendidly modern.

All events booked at the Walker include a gallery pass for each guest. Mini golf, private gallery tours and sculpture garden tours can be added for weddings, wedding brunches and other events.

Terraces wrapping around the building offer views of downtown Minneapolis. The unique architecture makes any event stylish. “People like that they don’t have to do much to make it feel cool. You could light a couple candles and it still looks very lovely,” says Sherri Beier, director of event & building services. “It’s very modern yet timeless.”

A seated dinner in the Skyline room seats 220, while a standing reception on the main floor can accommodate up to 1,000.

Minnesota History Center

With floor-to-ceiling marble pillars, four-story windows and outdoor terraces with views of the Cathedral of St. Paul, opportunities for remarkable photos are available at every turn. Three levels of event space and two outdoor terraces provide a light-filled backdrop. “No matter which direction you are facing, there is always something unique and special to look at,” says Brown-Hoesing, who also handles catering. Guests will love the optical illusion of the view of the State Capitol Building, which appears larger or smaller depending on where you stand.

Dinner can be held in the Great Hall for up to 350 guests. On the lawn and courtyard during warmer months, parties can be as large as 800. Private rental of the galleries with interpretive staff is available, or guests can tour the museum at no cost before closing.

Designed by a Minneapolis architect to house the state’s archives and created with locally sourced materials, the History Center is quintessentially Minnesota.