Founded in 1971, the Humanities Center is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For the first few decades of its existence, the group was known as the Minnesota Humanities Commission. A unanimous vote by the Commission's board of directors in 2007 led to a name change and it has since been known as the Minnesota Humanities Center.
The Minnesota Humanities Center is both a physical entity and the name the former Board of Directors of the Humanities Commission goes by. In 2007, the Humanities Commission board voted unanimously to change its name to the Minnesota Humanities Center. A March 26, 2007 news release states: "This change communicates the central roles the humanities play in education and our role as the organizing center for humanities education programs statewide. The name also connects our programs to the building in which we office and conduct many of our programs."
The offices and many of the programs of the Humanities Center are housed in a full-service meeting and event center on St. Paul's East Side, near Lake Phalen. The facility is also used by a variety of clientele for meetings, retreats, small conferences, and special events.