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Partner Highlight: A Tale of the Twin Cities and Frankenstein

January 28, 2018

Christina Leavell, Science Museum of Minnesota

At the end of Mary Shelley’s legendary novel, “Frankenstein,” the monster floats away on an iceberg never to be seen again. That is until this past January, when he arrived in the tundra of the Twin Cities for frozen fun at The Bakken Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota!

January 2018 marked the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s creation of science fiction, and the creature that has become a “living” legend. There are countless retellings of the original story that the then only 20-year-old Shelley wrote. The image of the monster is alive and well today in toys, TV, you name it - but what about the science behind this tale and the relevant connections to responsible innovation that still resonate today?

Frankenstein LEGO minifigures, photo by the Science Museum of Minnesota for Frankenstein200.


The Bakken Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota were on a mission to tell this part of Shelley’s timeless tale. Starting with the Frankenstein200 kit from the NISE Network (, both institutions held fun, engaging events with hands-on activities that highlighted scientific experiments and emerging technologies of Shelley’s time that still have us asking the same scientific inquiry questions today: What is life? Why do we create? What are our responsibilities as creators, scientists, and engineers?

Participants had the opportunity to use their imaginations as they explored what it means to be a responsible innovator. They saw how science inspires fiction, and even created their own monsters through the activities.

Dough Creature activity at the Science Museum of Minnesota


The Bakken Museum's guests got an extra special treat – a visit from Mary Shelley and her monster! The pair also took time to meet with local news; check out an interview they did while in the Twin Cities here:

Mary Shelley and her monster at The Bakken Museum


The excitement in the Twin Cities over the anniversary was not only limited to The Bakken Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota. MPR News hosted a roundtable discussion exploring why Frankenstein still resonates with society today.  The piece included The Bakken’s Director of Exhibits and Collections, Juliet Burba, as well as Jennifer Alexander – Director of Graduate Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota, and local actor Heidi Berg, representing Green T Productions and discussing the company’s latest retelling of Frankenstein for the stage. Their full hour-long discussion is available to listen to here:


The Frankenstein200 project is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL-1516684. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.