A Washington Post writer called the Science Museum of Minnesota 'small' – is he right?

But were they right? Here's how the Science Museum of Minnesota stacks up to others.
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When a character on Stranger Things 2wore a certain purple hoodie in one episode, it brought a ton of attention – and even more money – to the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

But in all the reporting on the museum's first-day sales of $400,000 worth of sweatshirts and T-shirts, there was one story that stood out.

A writer for the Washington Post's business section, Gene Marks, wrote a column describing how "a small museum in Minnesota" was capitalizing on the trend of fans buying items that appear on their favorite TV shows. 

A "small museum in Minnesota?"

The phrase showed up in the headline and paragraph three. 

Update: The Washington Post has actually changed its headline now, removing the "small" description. The reason they gave?

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We're guessing the Minnesota Twitter mob pestered the heck out of the Post about the "small" descriptor, so they changed it. (We'll count that as another victory for the indignant Minnesota gang.)

Nonetheless this was another case of Minnesota getting dissed by the Post. And it led to a discussion here at GoMN, with some people suggesting the writer might actually be correct – that from a national perspective, our state's Science Museum might be considered small. 

So we looked into it.

What we found

OK, the city that's home to the Post is also home to a really huge science museum. 

The Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. is part of the Smithsonian Institution and – at 760,000 square feet – it's more than twice as big as the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

Our museum in St. Paul comes in at 370,000 square feet, which includes meeting rooms and everything else – not just the exhibit space.

But a look at Adventure Student Travel's list of the 10 "Biggest (and Best) Science Centers Across America" shows only two others besides the Smithsonian are bigger in size than Minnesota's. 

Those are in Los Angeles (425,000 square feet) and Chicago (400,000 square feet). 

That'd put the Science Museum of Minnesota fourth in terms of square footage.

The verdict: not small

Mind you, the Science Museum of Minnesota did not actually make that list of the "biggest and best." In fact, we found several "best science museum" lists and a majority of them did not include Minnesota's. 

But even if our museum isn't one of the "best," the label "small" doesn't seem to fit. 

Perhaps the story about the Science Museum and its sweatshirts sounds more impressive if you cast it as a tiny, plucky Midwestern outpost that used some business savvy to collect a whopping $400,000 in a day. 

Minnesotans, of course have taken offense to perceived slights from the Washington Post before – and in the best known case, reporter Christopher Ingraham traveled to the state to make amends and wound up moving to Red Lake County

Well, if Gene Marks decides to take the same path and moves to Minnesota, he might learn what a small museum really looks like.

An old fire hose cabinet outside a coffee shop hosts rotating art exhibits and calls itself "The Smallest Museum in St. Paul."

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