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Water parks, the Weisman, and an Arboretum, oh my!

It's a summer of endless to-dos at the U

By Adam Overland

Frozen over Ice Fishing Hole 
"Minnesota River scabbed over hole in ice, St. Paul, MN 2004" Part of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Reedy Gallery presentation "Seeing Our Nature: Photographs of Earth, Water and Flotsam" by Peter L. Johnson.

June 23, 2009

Nothing says "summer is here" like music, art, food, water parks, and squirrels. The U of M has plenty of everything to keep you (and your family) having fun this summer. But you'll have to scurry if you want to do it all. Here's a summer activity guide to help you find your way:


A different kind of water park

Grab your lunch, hop on your bike, and head down to the Water Power Park across from St. Anthony Main. The park, which is open all summer, offers fabulous views of downtown Minneapolis, St. Anthony Falls, and, perched on the banks of the Mississippi, the Outdoor StreamLab at the University's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.

From the park's pavilion, you can look down into the OSL and watch as engineers, ecologists, geologists, and other scientists conduct experiments on how humans and rivers interact. During 2009, Outdoor StreamLab researchers will be considering issues ranging from controlling bank erosion to improving water quality and restoring aquatic habitat. Call ahead to schedule a free tour for adult groups. The maximum group size is 13; the minimum is 3.

Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy!

Maybe you didn't know it was the international year of astronomy, but don't worry--the stars won't hold it against you as long as you look upon them with wondrous awe. June marks the beginning of the Department of Astronomy's summer Universe in the Park program, with kickoff events held at the Dodge Nature Center and the Eastman Nature Center on June 26 and 27, respectively. The weekend evening events are scheduled at 13 area parks and nature centers throughout the summer. All events will begin with a short presentation on one of a number of astronomy topics ranging from the solar system to the history of matter and will be followed by telescope viewing of the night sky (weather permitting). And the stars don't even charge. For more information, see Universe in the Park.

The view from above

Flying can be expensive, and with the economy down, people aren't as often opting for air travel this summer. But that doesn't really apply to raptors; these birds never worry about the rising cost of peanuts or in-flight entertainment options. You can meet and envy a variety of such discount travelers at the U's Raptor Center. Established in 1974, The Raptor Center at the U's College of Veterinary Medicine specializes in the medical care, rehabilitation, conservation, and study of eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons, treating more than 800 birds a year. The center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. For more information, see The Raptor Center.

A special event—The Raptor Bowl IV Lawn Bowling Tournament--will be held to benefit the center at Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment in downtown Minny, July 15.

For the kids: ring the Bell Museum

With or without funding for a new Bell Museum, the show will indeed go on. The Bell's popular Summer Discovery Day Camps continue through September 4. The weeklong day camps are packed with hands-on projects that encourage kids to explore the fields of science, art, and technology. Each year, these interactive camps offer stimulating topics, all led by talented Bell Museum education staff. Upcoming camps include Art in Nature; Reptiles Rule and Amphibians are Cool; Forensic Science; and Mysteries of the Plant World. Call 612-624-9050 to register. For more information, see programs.

The Bell also has family programs, including Nature Play, a series of engaging drop-in family activities for kids four to 10, held from 1 to 3 p.m. the second Saturday of the month, and Nature Tots, an interactive program for two- and three-year olds and their families, held from 10 to 11 a.m. the first Thursday of the month. Activities include music, crafts, games, and nature exploration. Registration is required for Nature Tots; call 612-624-9050. For more information see the events calendar.


Locavore 101

A variety of peppersInterested in local food? Class is in session. Learn how, where, and why to buy local with Locavore 101, a free lecture organized through the Wellness Speakers Bureau. Groups or departments can schedule the lectures to be held in their office space or wherever is most convenient. This fun presentation will explain the health, taste, and economic benefits of purchasing local food and give participants the basics to convert to a more delicious, locally sourced diet. Campus Club executive chef Beth Jones developed the program as part of the Wellness Office initiative to identify wellness resource people on campus. Courtney Tchida, MISA student programs coordinator for the U's Student Organic Farm, is copresenter. For more information, see Locavore 101 PDF.

Farmers Market

Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Farmers Market returns for its fifth season on July 8 and will run through mid-October. Add some fresh fruit to your lunch, take home some broccoli, or just smell the flowers for sale. Every Wednesday, rain or shine, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., on Church Street.

St. Paul: The Falcon Heights farmers market recently moved to the St. Paul campus. The market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon, each Tuesday, on Gortner Avenue, just south of Larpenteur Avenue. The market runs through late October (closed Sept. 1). This year the market will include produce from Cornercopia, the student organic farm on campus, as well as meat and cheese from CFANS.



If you're looking for a cool building on a hot day, the Weisman Art Museum presents two new major exhibitions this summer: Au Courant: Robert Rauschenberg's Currents, and Stories from the Somali Diaspora: Photographs by Abdi Roble. Admission to the Weisman galleries is always free. Volunteer-led tours of some exhibits may be scheduled for groups for a small fee—organize your department over lunch!

If you want to keep your fun in the sun, remember that public art graces more than three-dozen locations around campus. Guided walking tours limited to 30 and focusing on the east or west bank of the Minneapolis campus or on the Saint Paul campus may be scheduled. E-mail Jamee Yung or call 612-625-9656 to schedule, and make sure to do so two to three weeks in advance. For works and locations, see Weisman public art. Or, download the public art PDF map and get going.


The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum never lacks for lush summer adventure. Cool off with the arboretum's summer exhibit, " Waterosity: Go Green With a Splash," through Oct. 4. The exhibit brings together the voices of artists, scientists, and horticulturalists to celebrate water through thought-provoking and playful installations and exhibits, including human-size frog puppets, dancing water fountains, a jumbo disposable water bottle (with a message) and more.

Inside, the arboretum's Reedy Gallery presents "Seeing Our Nature: Photographs of Earth, Water, and Flotsam," by Peter L. Johnson, opening July 1 and continuing through Oct. 4. The seemingly abstract photos capture humanity's footprint on nature with captivating color from unexpected places—everything from oil spills to discarded paint buckets.

If you are still uninspired to make the short trip, motivate yourself by reading all about the arboretum's world at the Nature Notes blog.

Music and movies

Squirrel dancing

Northrop Squirrel graphicFree music for people and squirrels at the Summer at Northrop music series, through July 22.

The Summer at Northrop music series is practically an institution all its own; every year for 55 years an eclectic mix of music has rocked the Northrop plaza, giving free sounds to listening squirrels and people alike. Nearby, food at the outdoor Northrop Grill will ensure you won't go hungry while swishing your tail to the tunes. The 25 free noon concerts began June 11 and continue through July 22. For more information, check out the Northrop Blog and read about the bands.

St. Paul: If you're in St. Paul, stop by the St. Paul Student Center for free films every Wednesday night, 7 p.m., June 17-Aug. 5. From June 18 to Aug. 6, groove to live music at noon on Thursdays on the Garden Terrace. Popular local artist Jeremy Messersmith performs June 25. For more information, see the events calendar

Mind and body

Stretch your body and mind

How about some yoga and meditation? This free, special event with Swami Veda Bharati will introduce participants to the relationship between Hatha yoga and meditation. Venerated yogi Swami Veda traveled from Sadhaka Grama Ashram in India to share these teachings with the Minnesota community. The event is part of a 2-credit course through the Center for Spirituality and Healing called "Ethics, Spirituality, and Healing." July 22, 4:40-6:30 p.m., Mayo Auditorium.

Into the (fairly mild) wild

With trips and clinics locally and nationally, the Rec Center's Center for Outdoor Adventure (COA) provides alternative recreation experiences revolving around the great outdoors.

The view from your cubicle

Don't have time to leave the office? It may be little consolation, but a University of Minnesota webcam presents a live view of Northrop Mall on the east bank. "From my dank, windowless office, I enjoy using the campus webcam to get a glimpse of the green and sunny outside world," says Peter Riemenschneider, Electronic communications manager, Institute of Technology. Also check out the webcams at Morris, Crookston, and Duluth too. You can even watch the construction at the Science Teaching Building or the nearly complete TCF Bank Stadium.

Celebrate U! (as in, "you")

A great exclamation mark at the end of a summer

An appreciation event for all UMTC faculty and staff will take place Aug. 25, 2-6 p.m., TCF Bank Stadium. The event, called "Celebrate U!" includes a preview of the new stadium, complimentary refreshments, a video presentation on the second largest screen in the nation, a performance by members of the U of M Marching Band, and an opportunity to visit with senior leaders and Goldy Gopher. For more information, see Celebrate U!

A few more

If you've only got time for a few events this summer, take a look at these high five at the U of M homepage slideshow.


Superior knowledge cruise

Take a three-hour educational boat tour along the Lake Superior coastline during Minnesota Sea Grant's "A View From the Lake 2009." The L. L. Smith Jr. research vessel is back for another season to teach you little known facts—like that a drop of water spends an average of 191 years in the lake. Good to know. For more information, see Minnesota Sea Grant.

Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival

UMD's renowned School of Fine Arts brings to life an amazing roster of theatre, jazz, chamber music, and big band concerts at the fourth annual Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival.