Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum is off I-35 exit 41, e. to State Ave., then .5 mi. n. to the city government building at 540 West Hills Cir. Founded in 1885 as the only state orphanage in Minnesota, the 329-acre institution served as a temporary home to more than 10,000 children during its 60-year existence. The self-sufficient school housed its own power plant, icehouse, hospital, gym, greenhouse, farm and 16 cottages.
The museum features exhibits and a video about the orphans’ lives in the 1930s, and an outdoor audio tour provides background about the buildings and grounds. The cemetery contains 198 graves; a memorial is dedicated to former state school children.
Note: Weekend access to the museum is through the Owatonna Arts Center entrance at the rear of the main building.