When guests visit the museum they invariably comment on the beauty of the building and its setting, and on the exhibits. They find the exhibits informative and attractive. The permanent exhibit areas have not had major changes for a number of years yet they remain fresh and do not seem dated. That is a real tribute to the exhibit designer, John Low, whose sense of both history and design served the needs of this museum well. To accommodate the use of collections that are not displayed long-term, there is the Showcase exhibit in the east exhibit corridor. Presently the display features Nathan Richardson and family.
Visitors also ask how the museum is supported. As frequently as we are asked this question, it occurred to me that our own members may not be aware of the many resources that make up the support for the Society and museum. The following is a capsule version of where the support comes from:
Morrison County Board of Commissioners: Since the founding of the Morrison County Historical Society in 1936 the County has supported the Society. In the beginning it was supplying a space in the courthouse along with heat and lights. Now support is in the form of an allotment. Each county citizen is contributing about $1.30 per year.
Endowments: Since the museum was built in 1975 some large donations and bequests have been placed in endowments. The principle can never be spent. Earnings from the endowments are designated for specific uses. Anyone can arrange, through a will or donation, to have a designated endowment set up.
Heritage Fund: The Heritage Fund, also an endowment, was set up to accept gifts for special occasions or memorials. These gifts can be small or large. Art and I choose to give to this fund because we feel that this museum is where the individual will best be remembered. The museum retains newspapers and other information where announcements, stories and obituaries will become a part of the County’s history.
Memberships: Members are the lifeblood of the organization. You not only remain faithful in your membership but also frequently make much needed additional gifts.
Grants: Our organization does not rely heavily on grants. We apply for grants only if the guidelines indicate we would have a good chance of receiving the grant. Writing grants is a very time-consuming project considering the competition for them is enormous.
Donation Box: This is one of the most gratifying, although not as lucrative, means of income. We get very excited when we find a large bill in the donation box because it means the visitors really enjoyed and appreciated the museum.
Research Fees: We have a nominal research fee, in the form of a per-copy photocopying charge, for researchers who visit the museum. For those who can’t visit the museum, we have a research fee based on time staff have spent to answer each research request.
Gift Shop: We have a small gift shop at the museum. It includes various inexpensive trinkets meant to appeal to children. We also sell books related to Morrison County history, including the Society’s own publications.
According to recent conversations with people at the state level, the Morrison County Historical Society is regarded among the top in the State of Minnesota. We owe the reputation to all of the people who participate in any way in the support of the Society.
By Jan Warner
Copyright 2006, Morrison County Historical Society