Exhibits & Tours
Interpretive Center & Gift Shop
The first building you encounter during your visit. Friendly staff are waiting to provide admission sales as well as a wide variety of merchandise related to Dorothy Molter (can you say KWITCHURBELIAKIN™?), the Northwoods and our very own Isle of Pines Root Beer served ice cold! Local and regional artisans, authors and artists are featured through our selection of products including art, books, apparel, decor, gifts and souvenirs.
Mini-exhibits, including Dorothy’s guest registries, on the life of Dorothy can also be viewed here free of charge.
Also inside is a spacious, accessible restroom. Please bring your own full water bottle, we do not sell bottled water.
Optional outdoor, introductory tours are approximately 25-minutes and are offered at the top of every hour starting at 10am and ending with the final tour an hour before closing.
Self-guided tours are always an option with a visitor guide for visitors to take use as well as an online guided tour option.
Large families, groups or tour bus groups are encouraged to call ahead and schedule a group tour or register online so we may provide the best service possible.
Dorothy’s Winter Cabin
Step back in time as you enter Dorothy’s home during the winter. In the porch, a new exhibit (2023) featuring the original root beer making equipment she used is displayed to help you envision the process of providing thousands of bottles of root beer to Isle of Pines visitors each summer.
As you continue into her kitchen and dining area, imagine stoking the wood stove, entertaining visitors with piping hot coffee, and crafting her famous Christmas ornaments by lamplight. This cabin features personal items, memorabilia and clothing of Dorothy’s as well as pictures of Dorothy with friends, family and visitors to Knife Lake, as well as a 7-minute video compilation (2022) of the January 10, 1987 Memorial Ride.
Funding for the 2023 root beer exhibit was provided through generous private donations during our November 2022 Give to the Max Day campaign.
Point Cabin Exhibit – Dorothy Molter: Living in the Boundary Waters
This permanent exhibit illustrates how Dorothy Molter lived at the pace of the seasons and embodied the spirit and inspiration of the Northwoods wilderness. It features a combination of objects and photographs from the museum’s collection and a 15-minute video compilation from the 1987 documentary film Dorothy Molter: Living in the Boundary Waters.
Funding for the exhibit was provided through a grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), as well as through generous private donations (2013).
Cady Cabin – Creating the Boundary Waters: 25 Objects, 25 Stories Exhibit
This educational exhibit highlights the decades-long and often controversial process of how the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was established as a federal wilderness. Visitors will learn how this process affected not only Dorothy, but residents and visitors to the area through a visual timeline featuring 25 collection items representing different eras.
Funding for the exhibit was provided through a grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), as well as through generous private donations (2018).
Birds’ Landing at Dorothy’s – Available year-round
Dorothy Molter was famous for much more than just making root beer; she was also known for her love of birds. In her 1955 bird essay, Dorothy wrote
Bird-watching is a fascinating hobby. There is always something new to see and something new to learn, and never a dull moment. I don’t envy city dwellers who miss all this.
A remarkable assortment of birds visited the feeders around Dorothy’s home on Knife Lake, and she easily went through 1,000 pounds of seed each season. Dorothy particularly enjoyed sharing her passion for birds with the many people that visited her.
With its location between the tall red pines of the Joseph Rozman Memorial Forest and the meadow-like environment of the Ely Cemetery, the Museum is ideally situated to attract a wide range of birds throughout the year.
The museum also offers a selection of field guides for on-site reference and a free, take-home brochure featuring bird food recipes.
Dorothy’s Discovery Trail
This 1/4-mile nature trail is available to museum visitors year-round. Although short, it meanders through a variety of eco-types common in the Northwoods starting in a red pine stand, meandering through a mixed conifer-deciduous patch and skirting a wetland. Interpretive signs highlight flora and fauna found in northern Minnesota such as the pileated woodpecker, sphagnum moss and the tamarack tree.
A nature guide is available at two stations outdoors, which provides information about the coniferous biome of the Northwoods by pointing out specific features of the landscape along the trail. Pick up the trail guide on the north side of the Interpretive Center, next to the door.
Dorothy’s Discovery Trail Backpack is also available for use by pre-arrangement during your tour and includes a variety of field guides, tools and suggested activities to help you learn more about the natural world.
The trail is on natural soil with some rocks and roots exposed. Pets are welcome if leashed, well-behaved and deposits are picked up. Trail not cleared during winter months.
Dorothy Molter – USFS Kawishiwi Ranger Station (Ely)*
Dorothy Molter’s life in what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is highlighted in this kiosk located inside the U.S. Forest Service Kawishiwi Ranger Station’s Northwoods history and ecology exhibit. This exhibit is free and offers a wide range of Superior National Forest/BWCAW information with staff available to answer questions about this unique area of the country.
Located just east of the Dorothy Molter Museum, across the street from the International Wolf Center, in a gorgeous LEED building.
*Please check with the USFS for public hours/availability.