Arts and Animals
A historic building in downtown Wahpeton, on the Minnesota border in the southeastern corner of the state, took on new life in 2011 when area residents repurposed it to open the Red Door Art Gallery and Museum. The museum showcases work by local, regional and national artists and hosts groups for a variety of hands-on art classes.
Recently, the Wahpeton Visitor Center moved into the Red Door Gallery, giving groups visiting town a great way to learn about the area and enjoy its art, all free of charge. The museum will also serve as headquarters for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2019.
After stopping at the museum, groups visiting Wahpeton should plan to spend some time at the Chahinkapa Zoo. Home to more than 200 animals from six continents, the zoo is known for its conservation-focused orangutan habitat. The zoo offers behind-the-scenes tours and orangutan encounters for groups and is preparing for the arrival of two white rhinos.
In Bismarck, visitors will find a hub of cultural activities and institutions. The most prominent is the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, a free museum that tells the story of the natural and human history of the area spanning millennia.
Making news at the museum this spring was the debut of a new dinosaur fossil that was unveiled in late April. The exhibit is a 10-foot-long partial cast of a plesiosaur, a long-necked marine reptile that lived in North Dakota during the dinosaur age. The exhibit also includes an authentic vertebrate specimen and a wall mural that depicts the world the plesiosaur inhabited.
In addition to the dinosaur and other geological artifacts, groups will find three more galleries that highlight the innovations of the area’s early native people, life on the North Dakota frontier and the state’s contributions to World War I. There’s also a museum store and a coffee shop.