Museum to reopen first floor

This new, larger programming area is one of the outcomes of a recently-completed remodeling project at the Pipestone County Museum. The partial wall with the painting creates a separation between the programming and exhibit areas. K. Kuphal

After months of remodeling, the Pipestone County Museum is reopening its first floor and holding an open house reception for people to come see the updated space on Friday, May 5 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The first thing museum patrons will notice is a larger programming area. A storage room was removed to open up the room and a partial wall with a painting creates a barrier between the programming area and exhibit area. Meinders Community Library donated padded chairs for the programming area, replacing the metal folding chairs that were used in the past.

The museum held its first program since November in the newly remodeled space on April 20, featuring Gabe Yellowhawk, who spoke about the Pipestone Indian School and Indian boarding schools in general.

“We had 19 people, which was really quite good, and they really commented on the comfort of those chairs,” said Museum Executive Director Susan Hoskins.

Beyond the programming area is the exhibit area, which has been opened up and enlarged by relocating a secured archive area to the second floor. Hoskins said the area that now houses the archives previously housed the museum’s textile collection, which was moved into the Ferris Grand building.

“Being able to use available space in the Ferris Grand Block for collection storage has allowed us to open more space to the public in exhibits,” Hoskins said.

The remodel also added a handicap accessible public restroom, and included installing new carpet and repainting the walls on the entire first floor to match the second floor, creating a more cohesive look to all the exhibit space. An unexpected part of the project was the repair of three cracked ceiling joists above the office.

Hoskins said the total cost of the project was around $35,000. It was paid for with funds from the United Way of Pipestone County, a grant from Sioux Valley Energy, member support and the Pipestone County Historical Society’s reserves.

In addition to remodeling the space, museum employees updated some of the existing exhibits and created new ones.

“We reimagined the fire department, the railroad and then the quartzite quarry ones,” said Museum Collections/Exhibits Manager Noah Burris. “Those were already existing, but they involve bigger items that stay here on the first floor, so we reimagined them, put them in different spots, got new panels designed and printed for the fire department and the railroad one, and kind of overall reworked them, so it’s a different look.”

Burris said they’re also working on installing some smaller exhibits, which will be an ongoing process. Those include a dentist exhibit, a post office exhibit, a bank robbery exhibit and a loom. Hoskins said they also plan to feature more prominently a map that shows the original vegetation across Minnesota. The map use to be located in the front of the museum and is now in the first floor exhibit area.

The new exhibits will also include more interactive components, which is something the museum started to do after the second floor remodeling project was completed last year. Interactive exhibits include one about railroad lantern signaling, the post office exhibit where visitors can weigh packages and figure out how much shipping would have cost at various times in history, and the quartzite exhibit where people can feel the difference between quartzite and pipestone. An interactive mapping activity is also planned.

Other projects the historical society is planning this year include a new roof for the museum building and tuck pointing for the Ferris Grand Block.