This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum. Built in 1975, the museum houses the Morrison County Historical Society, an organization that was established in 1936 by a small group of county residents. Since its dedication, the museum has seen many changes, including the rapid growth of the Society’s collections. It did not take much investigation to confirm the notion that the collections have grown extensively over the past thirty years. No wonder why we are feeling a bit short on space.
Thirty years ago, the Morrison County Historical Society (MCHS) moved from a small room in the basement of the county courthouse to its present location along the Mississippi River. According to Art Warner, MCHS President, “(m)ost of the artifacts and documents were crammed together in a haphazard fashion in that room which served as office, display, and storage space, while other artifacts were placed out in the hallway, or in a small damp vault located on the other side of the basement” (Growing History. MCHS 2000 Fall Newsletter, Volume 13 Number 4). How exciting it must have been to move into the new climate-controlled building with its separate areas for display and for storage.
As the size of the collections continued to increase, it soon became obvious that the new building needed to expand. A welcome addition came in 1981 with the construction of the Archives and the Artifact Collections wings. Thank goodness for that new space, because the collections just kept on growing.
Since moving into The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum, MCHS has acquired over 28,000 items from 2,700 separate donations. The collections currently consist of roughly 34,000 items from 3,908 separate donations. Thus, over the past thirty years MCHS has received over eighty-two percent of the items that are currently in its collections. Yikes! That’s a lot of history.
The first donation to MCHS occurred in 1938 when John Wetzel of Little Falls donated a collection of thirty photographs. Since then, the collections have not only grown, they have also become increasingly diverse. Items in the collections range from silk gloves and bear traps to business records and photographs. Some of the many donations that have been received this year are an oil painting by Warren Wesley Woodworth, a black and white panoramic photograph of Blanchard Dam, the highway patrol uniform of Leonard Dimatteo and men’s and women’s coats made from the skins of animals that were hunted by Albert Frederick Blaser of Pierz, Minnesota.
Each item in the collections of the Morrison County Historical Society plays a vital role in the Society’s ability to fulfill its mission, that of the preservation and dissemination of the history of Morrison County. As stated in the minutes of the organizational meeting of the Society, which was held on July 28, 1936, one of the main objectives was to “…establish a museum…for the education, information, benefit, and enjoyment of the people of Morrison county and future generations”. Thanks to its increasingly diverse and rich collections, the board and staff of the Morrison County Historical Society have continued to be able to fulfill this noble goal.
By Ann Marie Johnson
Copyright 2005, Morrison County Historical Society