Ag building update

The siding is on.

The interior is insulated and the walls are finished. Complete with high shelf and slat wall for displays.

Today the big doors were installed.

The idea is that we can look out of the “barn” across the field.

Anyone who has farmed will have memories of watching the weather change from inside the barn door.

We couldn’t have a wide open barn door in the exhibit hall, so this was the next best thing.

Now all that remains is the electrical work. Then we get to bring the artifacts back in!

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Construction Update

I went to a museum conference for a few days, and this is what the building looked like when I returned to work on Friday morning!

By the end of the day Friday, the steel was up on 2 sides!

Construction is moving along… Now we need to concentrate on getting the yard ready for upcoming school tours and other spring events.

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It is never boring here at the Pope County Museum!

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New Construction

Once the snow was removed from the slab…construction got underway.

Yesterday the first load of lumber arrived and they installed the sill plate.

Today, we have walls.

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Out with the old, in with the new

The “log building” is no more. 2017-03-09 1.JPG

We have had several people ask why we had to tear it down, so I thought I’d give a little history.

Newspaper articleIn the fall of 1983, the 40′ x 80′ Norway Pine log building was constructed on site to house antique agricultural equipment and other large items. It was celebrated with a grand opening event in October of 1983. There were some issue with the logs early on, requiring some immediate repair.

In 2006, the historical society re-shingled the roof. Problems quickly became apparent


Rotten logs by door frame. The doorway was cut in 2006.

when we cut a door on the north side of the building. The logs had clearly rotted from the inside.

We brought in engineers to examine the building and make recommendations. The north and south walls were 1 foot off plumb and there was excessive rot in many logs throughout the building. The contractor had installed inferior logs from the start.

According to the engineer’s report: “Our assessment is that the building as existing is not structurally sound and measures should be taken to ensure the public is safe when entering the building.” All of the repair options given were extremely costly, so we made the decision to close the building to the public in 2006.

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Interior rotting required the beveled edges of the logs to be cut off shortly after construction.

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The logs rotted from the inside and began to collapse.

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Rotten and collapsing logs no longer lined up with doorways and windows. In this image you can see that the log that was originally attached to the hinge has dropped several inches.


The effect of the collapsing, rotten logs was very visible inside the building.

Since then, we have been exploring options for repair or replacement. Fundraising for the log building and improvements to other buildings on our campus was just getting underway when a huge storm damaged the roof of the main building in 2011. Priories shifted. Now that the main building roof has been replaced and other historic buildings have received some needed TLC, the time has come to deal with the log building.

After lengthy discussion and consideration, the board decided that the building should be replaced. Replacement is more cost-effective than repair.

The building was emptied and the artifacts stored away safely in preparation for demolition.

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TKI quickly and safely removed the building in one day.

We are eager to have a safe building that we can actually open to the public. The new building will again be used to hold agricultural equipment. Staff is already planning exhibits to illustrate not only the changes in Pope County agriculture through the years, but also exhibits that show how the products grown on local farms come into our lives, in our vehicles, in our clothing, and to our plates – often in surprising ways.

Please check back regularly to read about the construction progress and exhibit development.  I will also be highlighting artifacts from our agricultural collection over the next few months.




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Statistics for Museum Geeks

The recent storage system installation at the Pope County Museum created some interesting statistics. In planning the system, we had to carefully examine the whole museum collection and how it would best fit into the new shelves. Over the years we have purchased archival boxes of different shapes to best hold dresses, uniforms and other acid sensitive objects. We have also worked hard to manage and protect the photograph collection with protective sleeves, albums and boxes.  The new shelf system was ordered based on the box sizes we use most often.


Our latest shipment of photo storage pages.

One of the best things about the new storage system is that it came in under budget. However, because it is a grant funded project, the savings on one part of the project must be reassigned to other needs that fit the criteria of the grant proposal. Since only a small percentage of our objects and records were in proper protective enclosures, we ordered boxes. $10,000 worth of acid free boxes!  And albums: 121 slip-covered albums. And protective sleeves for photographs and negatives: 180 pounds of sleeves! Even the delivery man commented, “Man, these boxes are heavy!”


The acid free boxes arrived almost a year ago and have mostly been assembled and put to use. The albums arrived next and will eventually hold the photo negatives from the Pope County Tribune, 1956 – 2003. It takes longer to put these together because the images are so interesting, they can be fully identified, and many of them fit into a single album. So far two albums have been filled to help us determine that we needed 121 albums and 9,400 polyethylene pages for negative storage (180 pounds according to Fed Ex!)

A huge project like this is possible because of dedicated staff members, hard-working volunteers, and “Legacy” funding. The Minnesota Clean Water, Land & Legacy Fund was created in 2008 by a statewide referendum. We all contribute to the fund through a small sales tax increase. The Pope County Historical Society has been fortunate to receive a number of these grants. We will continue to apply for funds to protect and improve access to our local history.

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Winter Olympics

IMG_1332.JPGEvery 4 years, our local elementary holds their own Winter Olympics. The students are assigned different nations and compete in modified events over a few weeks.

Today was the opening ceremony. Two students were chosen from each “nation” to carry the torch in the relay.

It is always a treat to bring them our Olympic torch. The adults are usually more impressed by the REAL TORCH than the students, but the torch runners understood the honor.


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“Found in Collection”

“Found in Collection” (FIC) is a common museum term. It is exactly what it sounds like – an item found in the collection with no proper documentation. Museums large and small deal with FIC objects.

As of today, the Pope County Museum has 1337 objects classified as FIC. I am working my way through this list to connect objects to their records whenever possible.

Some of the objects were properly cataloged when they arrived, but the object was never numbered or the number/tag on the object is missing. Those objects are relatively easy to sort out. I have all the official, numbered donation records entered into a database and can search by keyword.

1989.2402aBy searching for “Tractor” in the donation records, I was able to find records for the Hart-Parr tractor donated by Ole N. Barsness.  Once I had the donor name, it was easy to find more records to attach to the file, such as newspaper images of the tractor and Model T truck arriving at the museum.

Other times, there are clues attached to the object that can help us match it to the proper records. For example, there is a FIC shotgun in the museum that has a mailing label with the name Wilbur  Amspoker attached. I found an official record for Wilbur Amspoker donating a shotgungun, and am adding a proper museum label to the gun so that it will be permanently connected to its donation record.

2017-12-19 9Unfortunately, many of the FIC objects have no proper donation records. Some items are complete orphans, such as the grain binder in the log building. There are 2 grain binders at the museum and I only have paperwork for one.

If anyone out there knows who donated the second grain binder, please let me know. (The other is from Ole Jordahl.)  It saddens me when we can’t connect objects with their histories. – Ann

The problem of no records at all is an especially common problem for large objects. For many years, the job of recording donations and numbering artifacts fell to a dedicated group of volunteers who met once a month. It appears that the volunteers focused on smaller objects inside the museum rather than large items that were set outside or into the large storage building. They may not even have been made aware of the large, unprocessed artifacts outside.

When I find unnumbered items in the museum, I assign a temporary or FIC number until I can reunite it with its original donation number, or begin a new donation record. For items like the grain binder above where there is no donation record, the Collection Committee must decide if the artifact should officially be accepted into the collection.

xx.0665yFor many of these objects, the answer is a resounding “YES.” Yes, we should make it official that the Lowry Fire Engine is in our collection. Yes, the Soo Line signal light belongs in the collection. At our next Collection Committee meeting, we will formally and officially accept these and many other items into the collection and assign them a unique artifact number and donation record. Even if the new donation record states that the was FIC, I will record when it was first discovered in the collection and include as much information as possible about where it came from.

It is one of the most satisfying aspects of my job when I can connect artifacts to records. Connecting objects to their history is what makes our collection valuable for researchers and visitors.


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