Built in the shadow of the iconic state capitol building in Bismarck, North Dakota stands the beautiful Heritage Center, a museum dedicated to the animals and people (both past and present) of North Dakota, and to all of their beauty and accomplishments over the centuries!
As one passes through the grand entrance of the center, the first thing you’ll notice is the expansive atrium. Musical and artistic performances are held here throughout the year, but the highlight comes each December as the State Christmas Tree is displayed here, decorated with ornaments hand-crafted by children across the state earlier in the year.
The Heritage Center serves as a museum, with several exhibit halls divided by topic or focus.
A display of bird species that can be found in the state sits in a side hall, while a massive mastodon skeleton stands tall among the different halls, reminiscent of the African elephant in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
My favorite is the Adaptation Gallery: Geologic Time, which provides descriptions and exhibits of the deep geologic time which shaped the topography and natural diversity of life across the prairie lands which today comprise North Dakota.
A big hit at the Heritage Center, of course, are the dinosaur skeletons on display in the adaptation gallery, particularly the Triceratops and T-Rex.
Another exhibit hall I’d recommend is the Innovation Gallery: Early Peoples, which highlights the native animal species and original human populations of the region.
The taxidermied bison remind one of the displays at the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown. I recently explored that exhibit here.
Next on the list is the Inspiration Gallery: Yesterday And Today, which actually provides an incredible examination of the growth and development of North Dakota since statehood, and of the amazing contribution North Dakotans have made to science, agriculture, and even the performing arts!
A very well-stocked, although quite expensive, Museum Store can also be found near by the exhibits, while a children’s center called the Treehouse is located on the other side of the building. Clean restrooms are located down a hall which leads to the pleasant James River Cafe, tucked away in a quite corner of the center.
Travel Tip: If you plan to visit the ND Heritage Center in Bismarck, it can be found on the capitol grounds at 612 E. Boulevard Avenue. The center is open M-F 8-5, and from 10-5 on the weekends. Admission is free, and I certainly recommend checking out statemuseum.nd.gov to check for any upcoming events!
The ND Heritage Center is as expansive, diverse, and intriguing as the state it celebrates, and is a must-see for anyone visiting Bismarck. Check it out, but plan to spend most of the day exploring! Feel free to leave your comments below, and don’t forget to share this and all posts with your friends on social media. Prairie, Party of One welcomes all to explore this most beautiful region of the United States!