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State School Orphanage Museum

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Address: 540 West Hills Circle, Owatonna, MN
Phone Number: +1 507-774-7369
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Description:

Experience what life was like at this state-run school for orphaned or...

Experience what life was like at this state-run school for orphaned or neglected children. The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children was built in 1886 and closed in 1945. The museum uses exhibits of artifacts, as well as video and audio stations to tell the story of the more than 10,000 children who came through the school.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 22 reviews
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    Excellent
  • 4
    Very good
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A rare piece of Americana history...

We are personal friends with Harvey and Maxine Ronglien, who were instrumental in the founding and creating the museum. The entire city has come along side them to pull together... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed 3 days ago
Pat K
,
Owatonna, Minnesota, United States
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22 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Owatonna, Minnesota, United States
Level Contributor
21 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

We are personal friends with Harvey and Maxine Ronglien, who were instrumental in the founding and creating the museum. The entire city has come along side them to pull together memories and history of the State School of our countries history. Plan enough time to walk through the Art Center which is in the same building. Call ahead if you... More 

Helpful?
Thank Pat K
Minnesota
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2015

Great exhibit, very interesting information on Minnesota history and the lives of orphans in the early to mid 1900's.

Helpful?
Thank MNGTO
Museum540, Museum Director at State School Orphanage Museum, responded to this review

Thank you for visiting our Museum and for taking the time to share your thoughts with others. We appreciate it so much! More 

Owatonna, Minnesota
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 3, 2014

Self guided tour for the most part. You will see what life was like for the children who were left here. It is emotional and thought provoking. Tour the main building which houses the museum and a local art gallery. Then visit the boys cabin, cemetery and grounds. One of the last surviving boys lends his voice and stories through... More 

Helpful?
4 Thank Gwen Z
Owatonna, MN
Level Contributor
30 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2014

I have a relative that lived in the orphanage and this is a very, very good tribute to the people that have lived there.

Helpful?
2 Thank LuvToTravel0899
Lake City, Minnesota
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

It was so interesting. The museum is well organized. There are audio kiosks placed around the entire estate to listen to that explain what you are seeing. A must see.

Helpful?
1 Thank nagel57
Owatonna, Minnesota
Level Contributor
59 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

If you are in Owatonna, MN you must visit the State School Orphanage Museum Many people are not aware of the State School Orphanage which was in Owatonna. It is very interesting and provides a glimpse into the days of the past. On certain days you can even visit an old dormitory to see where the kids slept and what... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank retiredguy2014
Alpena, MI
Level Contributor
87 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2014

This was a blast from the past. If you are at all interested in child welfare or what a window into how things were, this is your place. It is beautiful yet haunting as you look back at how children were raised in the orphanage. I left with mixed feelings about the value of an orphanage. I found it interesting... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank TBTSM
La Jolla
Level Contributor
22 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2014

This was such a moving experience. First you drive up to these beautiful grounds and see majestic buildings that were made to stand the test of time. You go into the main building and start reading some of the stories and see the photos and you begin to feel some emotional pain. We were fortunate to be there when the... More 

Helpful?
3 Thank VoddyK
Farmington, Minnesota
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

Lived in Minnesota for over 30 years and had no idea this hidden gem was only an hour away. Went with a local tour group, and we all felt impacted by this visit. The volunteers are so dedicated and was fortunate to have an actual resident of the orphanage as our guide. The museum staff provided us with delightful refreshments... More 

Helpful?
1 Thank Marlene F
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
81 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2014

I've been visiting this site since I was a child. I have always been fascinated by the lives of the children who lived at this orphanage. There are a lot of artifacts to see, and stories to read. It's a somber day, but it's a good day too. They just opened a new cottage for viewing, to see where the... More 

Helpful?
2 Thank A_Miracle_Day

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  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?