The following three sentences in the minutes of the Morrison County Historical Society’s September 4, 1975, meeting stopped me dead in my tracks:
“A discussion on non-smoker’s rights followed. Smoking will be prohibited in the building. Don Peterson will make the necessary signs.”
The Historical Society dedicated The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum on August 24, 1975, and the building had just opened to the public. (During the same meeting, museum hours were set, that’s how new the museum was.)
Here’s what makes this decision unusual. While smoking is now commonly prohibited in public places in Minnesota, this wasn’t always the case. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act was passed in 1975, but the Act did not outright ban smoking in public places. Instead, it required public places to create “No Smoking” and “Smoking Permitted” areas. (http://publichealthlawcenter.org/topics/tobacco-control/minnesota-tobacco-control) Minnesota was the first state in the union to pass a Clean Indoor Air Act, so the fact that the Weyerhaeuser Museum was designated as smoke-free from the very beginning was quite a statement.
It wasn’t until 2007 that Minnesota passed the Freedom to Breathe Act that banned smoking altogether in public places.
Not only has the Weyerhaeuser Museum’s smoke-free policy saved the lungs of visitors, volunteers, staff and board members, it has been good for the artifacts as well. Cigarette smoke is a pollutant that can damage historical artifacts from the smoke itself, but also for cigarettes’ potential to start fires. Museums and smoking really don’t mix. Thankfully, the MCHS board had the foresight to put this policy in place from the museum’s earliest days.
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum.