Tag Archives: museum news

Update on Historic Structure Report progress – June 2018

We are pleased to announce that Hennepin History Museum is now working with Collaborative Design Group (CDG) on our Historic Structure Report (HSR). Eight architectural firms responded to our Request for Proposals and toured the building. All eight submitted bids for the project!

We liked CDG’s focus on historic preservation and renovation which is reflected in previous projects that are similar to ours. Their team has many years of experience identifying and evaluating HVAC, mechanical, electrical and structural issues in historic buildings and making recommendations based on current and anticipated uses.

HSR kick-off 1 LR

Our kick off meeting was held on April 19th and since then we have been working closely with CDG to interpret our building’s history and evaluate its current condition. The team has been all over the building, looking in every nook and cranny, from the boiler room to the tip of our tallest chimney. It has been so interesting to work with the various specialists and learn more about our building and grounds.

Kristen Oliver reflected in doorway

Image courtesy CDG

 

The final report, which will be completed in November, will assist future planning by creating a detailed picture of the building as it is today. It will also include a prioritized list of repairs and suggested changes, such as ADA improvements, in order to make our home even more welcoming to all.

A very special thank you goes out to the volunteer members of our HSR Advisory team: John Crippen, Debbie Goettel, Reed Holiman, Kim Jeppesen, Casey Krolczyk, Cara Letofsky and Becka Rahn, and to staff representatives Kristin Kaspar, Cedar Phillips, James Bacigalupo, and Heidi Heller. Each one went the extra mile by familiarizing themselves with the National Park Service’s Brief 43 (the official guidelines for an HSR), our grant request and our RFP prior to evaluating the bids to make the final recommendation. Many from this team will continue to be available as needed as we move through the HSR project.

We plan to offer periodic updates on our HSR, both in our magazine, Hennepin History, and on our blog. Stay tuned!

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This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. Thank you, fellow Minnesotans, for supporting arts and culture through the Legacy Amendment!

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Inventions & Innovation Collection at Hennepin History Museum

Great news! Hennepin History Museum has received a Legacy grant to catalog our Invention & Innovation collection. As many of our readers know, we are currently working on a large-scale full inventory of our collections. This project is a segmentation of this larger collections inventory project currently underway at the museum.

In 2019, we will be opening an exhibition on the history of inventions and innovation in Hennepin County. The artifacts cataloged in this project will help us prepare for that exhibition. Possible items include everything from a collection of Honeywell regulators to irons, Nordic Ware bundt pans, food packaging, games, cosmetics, and medical devices.

This grant has allowed us to temporarily expand our Assistant Collections Manager position from part-time to full-time. Alyssa is quickly becoming our resident expert on local inventions! She’ll be documenting each artifact (shown here), photographing them, and entering them into a database that will eventually be made available online. She’ll also be conducting additional research and writing blog posts about some of the most significant or fascinating items.

Upon completion of the project, we will have detailed collections records on 350 items, and 35 blog posts to share!

This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. This publication was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.

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Happy Birthday, Hennepin History Museum! We’re Celebrating 80 Years of Local History.

Image, above: Hennepin History Museum c. 1958

Today is the day: Hennepin History Museum is celebrating our 80th anniversary! On April 11, 1938, a group of residents interested in the preservation of local history gathered in the Hennepin County Commissioners’ chambers to discuss the creation of a new organization. “One of the main objects of the proposed society should,” they agreed, “be to obtain pioneer specimens now as the pioneers of Hennepin County were rapidly passing away.” The Hennepin County Board was happy to help; the County had been given a $60,000 Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant for the specific purpose of collecting historical material, and the Commissioners supported using the funds to staff the new historic society and museum. (Hennepin County still supports the museum; the County provides approximately 45% of our annual operating budget, with individuals, corporations, and foundations providing the bulk of the remainder.)

HHM first year

In 1938, the new Hennepin County Historical Society opened in one large “display room” on the second floor of Oak Hill School in St. Louis Park. Within months, we had taken over the entire second floor! Historic treasures from the county’s past flowed into to the newly formed museum, and in 1939 organizers reported that the collection “cannot be adequately shown to the public on account of lack of space and proper display conditions.” In 1944, we moved to a new home, this time located at 1516 Harmon Place in Loring Park.

Old membership card from Harmon Place

By the mid-1950s, space was yet again an issue, and the board began to seek out a larger, more permanent home. In 1958, we moved into our current home. 2303 Third Avenue South, the former residence of philanthropist Carolyn McKnight Christian, was selected for its size, its fire-resistant materials, and adequate parking.

In addition to collecting historic items relating to Hennepin County’s past, the museum’s early leaders focused on sharing history with the public. “From the beginning the Society has endeavored to make the Museum an educational force,” says one of earliest brochures. Shortly after opening we published Bohemian Flats, written by WPA writers and sponsored by the museum. We’re proud to report that this book is still in print today!

Hennepin History 1964

Our first magazine, then a quarterly bulletin, was published in April 1941, and today is one of the longest continuing historic publications in the state. Hennepin History has published articles on hundreds of local history topics. A commitment to telling the full story of Hennepin County has long been part of our mission. In 1991, for example, we became one of (and possibly the) first local history organizations in the nation to publish an article about local LGBTQ history.

That same year, following extensive community research, Hennepin County Historical Society changed its name to Hennepin History Museum. While our name may have changed, our commitment to preserving and sharing the history of Hennepin County remained the same.

For 2018, we’ve selected “why do people collect?” for our anniversary theme. We’ll be delving deep into this them through a year’s worth of programs and exhibitions, including a behind-the-scenes “visible storage” laboratory-turned-gallery. Here, visitors can watch as our volunteers and staff conduct an exhaustive inventory of our collection, and observe as tens of thousands of historic artifacts are recorded, photographed, and entered into a searchable database.

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Today, we have the opportunity to look back while at the same dreaming about our future. We invite you to join us for an exciting 2018 as we celebrate 80 wonderful history-filled years!

Your financial support makes all of this possible. Please consider becoming a member or making a financial contribution. Your support would make this birthday year even better! And a very special thank you to current members, donors, and visitors – we couldn’t do this without you.

Big News! Museum Receives Large Grant for Building Needs

We have exciting news to share with our readers!

Hennepin History Museum is pleased to announce that the Minnesota Historical Society has awarded us a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant in the amount of $75,000 to support the creation of a Historic Structure Report (HSR) for our building!

What is a historic structure report and why does it matter, you ask?

“A historic structure report provides documentary, graphic, and physical information about a property’s history and existing condition. Broadly recognized as an effective part of preservation planning, a historic structure report also addresses management or owner goals for the use or re-use of the property. It provides a thoughtfully considered argument for selecting the most appropriate approach to treatment, prior to the commencement of work, and outlines a scope of recommended work. The report serves as an important guide for all changes made to a historic property during a project-repair, rehabilitation, or restoration-and can also provide information for maintenance procedures. Finally, it records the findings of research and investigation, as well as the processes of physical work, for future researchers.”

– Preservation Brief 43, National Park Service

Driving this report is a need to create a more modern environment for museum visitors, volunteers and staff, while retaining and honoring the historic character of the building.

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One of many lovely and distinctive historic details that make this building special.

Two major goals of the project will include:

  • Figure out how to implement ADA improvements, such as an elevator and accessible bathrooms so that we can better serve all members of our community; and
  • Assess the current over-all condition of the building and what repairs are needed to maintain our beautiful home.

 

stairs

We love these dramatic steps; we don’t love that we have no elevator. The HSR is a first step towards addressing that.

We’ve been working on identifying options and making building improvements all year, but the HSR will pull together all of these needs into one comprehensive report. This is the first step in what will be a multi-year project; once we know exactly what we need to do – and how much it will cost! – we can systematically go about making it happen. The end result will be a fully functioning museum facility that fully meets the needs of our visitors and our collection.

Some background: our building was completed in 1920, and used as a family home by Carolyn McKnight Christian. The Christian Family Residence is a mix of English Renaissance Revival and late English Gothic, built by Hewitt and Brown. Hennepin History Museum has owned and occupied the building since 1957. Make sure to follow along on our blog and on social media as we’ll be sharing museum and building history throughout 2018 (our 80th anniversary as an organization!).

entrance hall. from scrapbook.

Our main hallway shortly after the building became a museum

For more information about Historic Structure Reports, see https://www.nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/43-historic-structure-reports.htm.

And thank you, fellow Minnesotans, for supporting arts and culture through the Legacy Amendment!

In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to support local history – and to help us pay for all the work that has yet to be done! – you can make an online donation by clicking here.

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