Ironworld becomes Minnesota Discovery Center

Ironworld, the Iron Range’s museum, historical library and event center, has changed its name to the Minnesota Discovery Center. While it’s a foregone conclusion that resident Iron Rangers will continue to call it Ironworld until they are two weeks dead what are your thoughts about this name? The premise is they are trying to broaden their appeal to a wider network of members, visitors and events.

Oh, and by the by, your friendly neighborhood writerman was asked to pen the Range History synopsis for the new website. But that’s the whole of my involvement in this.

Thoughts on the name?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I don’t think it’s all that great of a change. “Minnesota Discovery Center”, it probably won’t attract people as being anything different than the rest of the state. In my opinion if the Range wants to attract visitors, and tourism dollars, they are best off emphasizing the uniqueness of the area. That’s the reason it’s my favorite place to be in Minnesota, the scenery, the culture, the history and yes, the bars.

  3. Anonymous says

    It’s horrible. It describes absolutely nothing about the place. True, Ironworld wasn’t exactly descriptive either, but Minnesota Discovery Center is horribly bland and could be the name of just about any museum, Fort Snelling, or whatever.

  4. Jennifer Rian says

    Truly an unfortunate decision made by board and management under the mistaken belief that broader is better. The Ironworld identity crisis continues. The history and culture of the Iron Range is fascinating and unique subject matter. It is a shame that a name could not be chosen that would have reflected that.
    As a twenty-something Iron Ranger who left to pursue an education and moved back here 6 years ago, I am proud of where I come from. I am dissapointed that Minnesota Discovery Center is not. The Iron Range should be the foundation of that institution, not an afterthought placed there in response to political pressure.

  5. Anonymous says

    Reliable sources say that there were also comments about the need to distance Ironworld from Gov. Rudy Perpich, not focus so much on mining, and separate Ironworld from – thus the name change – a negative image that people have of the Range and Iron Rangers.

    I thought the purpose of the place was to tell the unique story of the Iron Range and surrounding area. And the uniqueness comes from the mining, the immigrants, and their way of life: the unique coming together of forces and people and geography and geology that created Rangers and the Range. Well, maybe that story needs to be told elsewhere if Ironworld is not interested.

    And if telling the story, who better epitomizes that story than Rudy? No one.

    One can tell stories about Two Harbors, Togo, Orr, Floodwood, Lumbering, Wild Rice, Fur Trading, the Native American nations, Duluth, of the connection to the State as a whole, etc. and not need a name change. In fact that has always been done at Ironworld. Each of those stories connects back to the Range and the Mining and the history here and is not complete if the connection is not made.

    Ironworld could tell ANY story, be anything. They could be the “Upper Midwest Discovery Center” or “The North American Discovery Center” but that is not what it is supposed to be.

    Ironworld is supposed to tell the story of the Iron Range. Let’s hope we don’t have to build a new place to completely and properly tell the story.

  6. When I agreed to do the history write up I didn’t know about the corresponding name change. Yes, I think some of this could have done with some public discussion. I think a name change was due, but there is no way that an iron mining museum perched over a mine pit can avoid its connection to the Iron Range.

    You know, I just realized that this name somehow manages to make the place seem MORE like the lair of a Bond villain. Maybe that’s the route we ought to go. Missiles=respect. (That is a joke, btw)

    Thanks for the candor everyone. I remain a supporter of the cause, but the board needs to hear things like this.

  7. I see no benefit to the name “Minnesota Discovery Center.”

    Sounds like a visitor center on the state line.

    “Ironworld” has identified the museum at Chisholm for years, and it’s all about impact of mining iron ore on the Range for more than a century. I say, change it back!

  8. Anonymous says

    Ironworld evokes thoughts of Chevy Chase and a dated, dreary, amusement park. The name should have been different from the get go, but better late than never.

  9. Anonymous says

    Thursday, media outlets announced the name change. Thursday was a day of celebration for the Minnesota Discovery Center. Thursday’s attendance count was over 3000. The facility has not seen 3000 visitors in one day in more than 15 years.

    I would have to believe that attendance number, regardless of being a ‘free admission day’, indicates visitor interest and a positive curiosity regarding the name change. A name-change, by the way, that occurred through an open survey process of members, sponsors,and facility staff.

    As the Minnesota Discovery Center upholds its on-going, well-defined and organized educational programming, it will continue to foster, promote and teach visitors and students the story of the Iron Range and the impact it has had for Minnesota and the world. It is a story that will not be forgotten because of a name-change.

    This name change and the fresh ideas it will bring can only preserve the facility and demonstrate a new and evolving presence to prospective benefactors, sponsors, citizens and members.

    If we are left with only negative attitudes stuck in past practices and void of support for fresh ideas, the Minnesota Discovery Center will not prevail. And all of the stories will then end.

  10. I for one will be boycotting MN Discovery Center. We are the Iron Range, and to deny who we are and what we have contributed to the United States is a travisty. Maybe the board and the CEO need to watch and listen to “Iron Range: Minnesota Building America.

    There is nothing derogatory about being from the Iron Range. We are recognized as one of the most hard working citizens in the Untied States and will get hired because of our strong work ethics alone.

    Granted a name change was warranted, but to deny us our story is outrageous.

  11. Anonymous says

    How irresponsible to change the name when the purpose of the institution is so unclear. It is obvious the board and mr.andrews have no idea what they are doing which isn’t surprising considering they have no training and should not be in charge of an educational experience. This place continues to struggle as management runs it like a circus. It would be funny if the instition didn’t have such important artifacts collections and history. Iron rangers should be asking how millions of dollars of an endowment are being spent and if the people in charge are qualified.

  12. There is obviously more going on here than just a name change. I think it is time to start asking questions. This is our museum. We can understand why MN Brown was asked to write the Range History synopsis but why not be told of a name change. Usually people don’t divulge all the facts when they are trying to avoid retribution, for deceptive gain, to create confusion or a joke. Well, I for one am not laughing.
    I want to know how many people were invited to the event last week versus how many responded. Why did people stand in line for 2 1/2 hours to ride the trolley to get to the Glen to be served alcohol? Why wasn’t the mini golf ready?
    We hear only about the events with numbers, but what were the numbers for Diamond Rio and the cost of the event or the blues on Sat night?
    How much was spent on the Name Change? I don’t believe that there was major discussion about the new name. We have creative talent that reside on the Iron Range and believe me, I know for a fact a meaningful name and logo would have been gladly produced if our local talent would have been consulted.
    I think it is time to look at our options of protecting our museum, research center and archives. I for one think it is time to take back our museum.
    I would like to know what our state legislators are thinking about all of this.

  13. To be fair I don’t believe my not being told was part of a deliberate deception. I still have friends there and that was unintentional. I was told there was to be a rollout of a new website and marketing plan and I didn’t ask any questions. There are many important questions raised in the comments here that deserve answers but I do think that the criticisms deserve some discrimination.

  14. Anonymous says

    Everyone talks about the name change and the impact that it will have on public perception. What about the back story? What did the employees think about it? Did they get a say in whether it was happening? What is the actual amount that the name change cost when inclusing new website, signage, brochures, etc are added up? Has anyone who works there had a raise of any sinificance in the past year? The idea that the name change allows them (IDC now MDC) to ask for tax dollars should frighten everyone. There is no one with common sense leading the charge. You can have visionary leadership without having unrealistic expectations. Who is leading, the board or the CEO and who is stopping them when they go too far?
    Some one reported that the legislative reception ended in major emotions as they were not consulted prior to the name change. The IRR was said to have distanced themselves for the name change. None of this can be validated because most will put on their public faces and not volunteer any negative comments.
    Sure there was a big turn out but it was FREE. That won’t prove anything. The people have a right to know and see what their money does. The idea that this place started from was great. What happened along the way?
    Who will take the fall when this fails in making it “new” because the name is changed?

  15. I think that Ironworld fit because it is about mining iron and is on an iron range anyway. Minnesota Discovery Center just sounds like a museum of discoverys in Minnesota.

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