Bell Museum Nature Sketches

I had the opportunity to go to the Bell Museum of Natural History with the Urban Sketchers Twin Cities last week. This amazing museum on University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus is in a new contemporary building with state-of-the-art displays. This was my first time at this museum and I can’t wait to go again! There was so much to sketch, so I chose a few displays and concentrated on those. Above is a fawn which was laying in a bed of leaves under a tree, in a display called “Spring at the Cascade River”. If you go up the tree trunk, there was a Great Gray Owl, which I sketched next.


I moved to an area with many display cases of various animals, shells, fungi, plants and other interesting items. I was amazed by the size of a fruit bat (not from MN), and the display of smaller bats (from MN) next to it. I loved the mushrooms. Their textures, colors, and details caught my eye, so I decided to sketch them next. A few sketchers and I sat and worked on these smaller specimens while a voice from another display nearby told us about the beginnings of the earth and the cyanobacteria present. In other rooms I had heard a variety of sound effects, including howling wolves, waterfowl, and moving water. It was a treat for the senses!

Finally, I sketched a couple bugs in another display case. One was a gigantic walking stick, a pearly-green bug with long legs. I have seen a real walking stick before, and thankfully it wasn’t as large as the one in the display case! I also did a quick sketch of butterflies that looked identical to dried dead leaves. I couldn’t believe the resemblance, they even had veins that looked like leaves.


This was a great sketch night and the museum’s depiction of Minnesota flora and fauna was quite amazing! With beautifully painted landscapes and true-to-life animals in their dioramas, it was a peaceful and stunning respite from the cloudy rainy evening we were having. A good time was had by all!

Leave a Reply