Bismarck, North Dakota
The Heritage Center is North Dakota’s State Museum, located on the grounds of the state Capitol in Bismarck. In recent years, the museum went through a major upgrade adding new galleries and exhibits. Visitors to Bismarck will find the Heritage Center to be an entertaining and economical way to spend the day. Admission is free, but visitors are invited to contribute to the museum’s support. Also housed in the newly remodeled building are the State Historical Society offices and the State Archives. Check the website for current hours of operation here.
North Dakota, like many of the great plains states, was host to some of the largest dinosaurs. Any museum worth its name must contain several exhibits of prehistoric animals. The Heritage Center doesn’t disappoint as featured in the Adaptation Gallery. Even prehistoric undersea animals and plants some 80 million years past lived in the ocean that covered North Dakota.
In more recent times, the American bison roamed the prairies. Hunted almost to extinction by early settlers and hunter tourists, conservation efforts by President Theodore Roosevelt and others saved the species. Some exhibits of long-extinct giant bison are an interesting comparison to today’s relatively smaller bison.
A bull boat and cart are examples of early transportation are featured in the Innovation Gallery. More modern exhibits are featured in the Inspiration Gallery. The three permanent exhibits in the galleries mentioned here trace North Dakota history from 600 million years ago through the present day.
While you are there, be sure to stroll around the grounds. The museum, located on the east side of the Capitol grounds features a great view of the Capitol building and a walk around the Capitol grounds will be rewarded with some interesting sculptures. I submit a small gallery of images taken from various vantage points around the Capitol grounds. Click on an image to enlarge it, and to scroll through the gallery.
Don’t miss the Governors Gallery. This gallery features traveling and temporary exhibits. Check the website here to see the current featured exhibit.
The Capitol, once the tallest building in North Dakota, is a short distance south of I-94. Go south on Exit 159 (highway 1804). The grounds are only a few short blocks south of the exit.