The Minnesota Historical Society was created by the Territorial Legislature in 1849 as one of the first educational and cultural institutions in Minnesota. Today, the Society serves a statewide audience through programs and services at the History Center in the Capitol Complex in St. Paul and through a statewide network of historic sites and museums. The History Center, near downtown St. Paul, is home to the Society's vast collections. The Mill City Museum, Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, and Historic Fort Snelling are examples of some of the Society's 26 historic sites and museums.
During the 2017 legislative session, Governor Dayton recommended that the Legislature transfer the the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) from the Minnesota Historical Society to the Department of Administration. The Legislature mandated the transfer in the 2017 Omnibus State Government Finance Law (Laws 2017, 1st. Sp. Sess., Chap. 4, Art. 1, Sec. 11, Sub. 2 and Art. 2, Sec. 29, 54).