Our History

Our History

The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) was founded in 1971 when the National Endowment for the Humanities began providing funding for state-based humanities programs.

MHC has always been a champion of education. Through the 1970s and 80s, our programming involved a range of education initiatives exploring Minnesota’s people, sociology, and history. Televised and in-person programs strengthened how educators approach their content and classrooms, and examined rural-metropolitan worldviews.

In the 1990s, our public programming expanded. Traveling exhibits, international speakers, published books, and public events examined our nation and state’s diverse, difficult histories and potential future. In 1996, MHC established our current home and a full-service event center in a former wing of the Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

The new millennium bore new successes. Some highlights of resources and experiences created in partnership with Minnesotans include:

  • Iron Range: Minnesota Building America, an Emmy-winning Iron documentary co-produced with TPT.
  • Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations, a nationally-recognized exhibit about the history and present of Dakota-U.S. treaties.
  • Somali Bilingual Book Project, a series of popular illustrated books for Somali youth.
  • Blues Vision, a collection of incisive prose and poetry exploring Minnesota’s African American literary tradition.

Today, MHC is one of the largest and most innovative state humanities councils, lauded for our work engaging and amplifying the voices of traditionally marginalized communities. While our programs and resources will continue to evolve in the years ahead, our commitment to bringing people together to forge connections and navigate critical conversations and issues remains steadfast.