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Acclaimed Minnesota Documentary Celebrates 10 Years, Continues To Inspire New Generations

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the premier of Minnesota: A History of the Land, the Emmy Award-winning documentary series produced by the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). The series vividly depicts how the land has shaped the people and how the people have shaped the land as it continues to inspire viewers to consider the future health of Minnesota’s environment.

TPT will be airing each of the five episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. on TPT MN, February 22 – March 22. For more information about the series, visit historyoftheland.org.

Minnesota: A History of the Land is an epic story that brings to life more than 16,000 years of Minnesota history, from the retreat of the last glaciers to the growth of today’s suburbs. The six-year production included collaborations with historians, scientists, tribal leaders, farmers, politicians and others to gather rare historical images, create dramatic re-enactments and animations, and film interviews and the landscapes of the state. The series also includes an original soundtrack scored and performed by award-winning local composer Peter Ostroushko.

The series has been illuminating and informing viewers of all ages about the diverse landscapes and the people of Minnesota since 2005, selling thousands of copies and reaching more than a million viewers.

"This program reminds us, in powerful ways, of our complex relationship with the beautiful land we call home,” said James R. Pagliarini, TPT president and CEO. "We are honored to partner with the University of Minnesota to stimulate awareness and discussion of this relationship among all Minnesotans."

Impressively, despite this milestone anniversary, everything in this extensive series remains accurate and continues to be incorporated into curricula by Minnesota educators across disciplines and grade levels. Over 50% of Minnesota K–12 school districts utilize the series, as well as many colleges and universities—demonstrating the continued benefit Bell Museum programming offers to the state.

“I first discovered the series five or six years ago on TPT and was immediately impressed with the work that went into it and I have been using it in my classes ever since,” said Jim Mesik, high school agriculture teacher at Central Schools in Norwood Young America, Minnesota. “It offers a local connection for my students and is a great resource for my curriculum.”

“This series lays the foundation for my entire course, with its coverage of the Public Land Survey, the arrival of the railroad, and demand for timber, meat, fur and wheat—it helps my students understand how Minnesota has transformed,” said Jesse Kroese, instructor at the University of Minnesota. “In my opinion, it is the most informative and most important documentary about Minnesota ever made.”

The series was made possible by private support and major funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and the McKnight Foundation.

Historical images and series stills available on request.

The Bell Museum is Minnesota’s state natural history museum. Our mission is to discover, document and understand nature and promote informed stewardship of our world. For details, visit bellmuseum.org.

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