An interactive museum, the Minnesota History Center features permanent and changing exhibits and the Minnesota Historical Society Library and Archives. The History Center opened in 1992 and has a museum, library, classrooms, an auditorium, a museum store, and a café. Exhibit highlights include a 24-ton boxcar, galleries that tell the story of Minnesota in the first and second World War, exhibits dedicated to Native Americans and early European settlers, and a multimedia show that highlights Minnesota’s weather. The Minnesota Historical Society was established in 1849.
The center's library is home to over a million archaeological specimens and nearly a quarter million artifacts. Its library includes nearly two hundred thousand volumes while its special collections and the archival collection includes twenty thousand maps, over three hundred thousand photographs, and six thousand paintings, prints, and drawings. The History Center includes staff that can help with genealogical research, as well as local history research. The archives contain 36,000 cubic feet of diaries, government records, and one-of-a-kind manuscripts. For those conducting local history research, the History Center also offers full or at least partial runs of four million issues of Minnesota newspapers.