Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Bakken

The Bakken Library and Museum is an "independent, nonprofit education institution that collects archival materials related to the history of electricity and magnetism in medicine and the life sciences." Founded by Earl E. Bakken, the inventor of the pacemaker, the museum grew out of Bakken's collection of antique medical devices of an electrical nature. Currently it's housed in a 1930s mansion in South Minneapolis.

Understandably, given the interests of the founder and the nature of the original endowment, the Bakken focuses on the medical aspect of electricity. However, they offer numerous science programs of a more general nature. For instance, in their Family Science Saturdays kids can perform electrical experiments and assemble mini wind turbines and electronic kits. Every Saturday is an "inventors table" sponsored by Twin Cities' legendary surplus store chain, Ax-Man. Their current exhibit, called "Electrifying Minnesota" uses archival photos, film and advertisements to show how electricity has shaped everyday life from the 1880s through the 1950s.

If that weren't enough, the Bakken serves as a scholarly institution, holding talks and awarding fellowships and grants. Their archives contain 11,000 written works and 2,500 scientific artifacts regarding electricity in the life sciences. Check them out!

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