Flappers, bootleggers and local legends in Prohibition exhibit at history center

"Mugshot" photo opportunity at the Minnesota History Center with life-size figures of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

“Mugshot” photo opportunity at the Minnesota History Center with life-size figures of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)

On Jan. 17, 1920, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell or transport alcohol. The 18th Amendment, Prohibition, was now part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the abolition of slavery. Explore this complex and colorful time in America’s history with the new exhibit “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” on view at the Minnesota History Center, Nov. 9, 2013 through March 16, 2014.

Created by the National Constitution Center, “American Spirits” spans the dawn of the temperance movement in the early 1800s, through the Roaring ’20s to the unprecedented repeal of a Constitutional amendment during the Great Depression. It includes stories of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists, as well as real-life legends such as Al Capone and Carry Nation.

Minnesota’s own Prohibition story is just as colorful. Andrew Volstead, U.S. Representative from Granite Falls, Minn., authored the Volstead Act, which effectively defined how Prohibition would be enforced and therefore what loopholes existed. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his young wife, Zelda, lived and partied in St. Paul. Fitzgerald coined the term the “Jazz Age” to describe the lifestyle of 1920s youth. And St. Paul became a hiding spot for many well-known mobsters.

The 5,000-square-foot exhibit features more than 100 rare artifacts and many interactive elements. For more information go to minnesotahistorycenter.org

Hours and location

The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Exhibit gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays (admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-259-3000.

Admission

Admission to “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” is included with regular History Center admission of $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and college students, $6 for children ages 6-17 and free for children age 5 and under. Admission is also free for Minnesota Historical Society members.

About the Minnesota History Center

The Minnesota History Center holds the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. The History Center is home to an innovative museum, engaging public programs, a modern library, distinctive gift shops and an award-winning restaurant.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing.

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