Tami Hensel and Val Crawford Share Director of Hubbard County Historical Museum – Park Rapids Enterprise


This summer, sisters Tami Hensel and Vallaurie “Val” Crawford are sharing the job of director of the Hubbard County Historical Museum.

Located on the lower levels of the historic courthouse, the museum opened on May 4 and is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Crawford tends to the museum during the early hours of the day, while Hensel works at his downtown business, Cattail Creek Framing, adjacent to Pioneer Park.

County Museum Director Tami Hensel, left, and Historical Society Chairman Jean Rumpza show off some of their favorite things during a tour of the County Historical Museum, starting by the toggery. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 6, 2021)

Both sisters grew up in the Twin Cities, but spent a lot of time in the Park Rapids area, where their grandfather owned a resort. Hensel moved here permanently in 1979, just two years out of high school.

Trained as an elementary school teacher with a degree in technical illustration and commercial design, Hensel did framing in Cattail Creek when it was owned by Monika Wilkins, then bought the shop from her and expanded it to include an art gallery.

After 22 years, she downsized it this year and moved to a space at the back of the building, while a new candy store called Enjoy opened in the Main Avenue storefront.

Crawford, meanwhile, has had a globe-trotting career involving international journalism, health policy and higher education. She has edited publications for the World Health Organization and the United Nations University in Tokyo; taught at universities in Taiwan, India and the Philippines; and has worked for seven American newspapers as well as the Japan Times and the Taipei Times. (Taipei is the capital of Taiwan.)

In March, she published an article in Health Policy Watch comparing public COVID-19 precautions between Nevis and Taipei. In April, Crawford interviewed the “minister of iron” – Taiwanese Minister of Health Shih-Chung Chen – for the same publication.

“I have been in love with Taiwan for 42 years,” she said.

She bought a permanent home in the Nevis area just a few years ago, around the time the two sisters started attending lectures given by the historical society‘s monthly guest lecturers.

Crawford still works as a freelance writer – something Hensel says she found she could do online, “so it’s great for her to have a home here”, also so they can spend time with their mother, Sharon Crawford. “It’s important that we’re both here right now, for her,” Hensel said.


A walk through the County Museum includes points of interest such as the interior of a one-room house that seems comfortable enough to live in, despite having no indoor plumbing. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 6, 2021)

Hensel said the opportunity to lead the museum this year came when Hubbard County Historical Society Chairman of the Board, Jan Rumpza, stopped by his shop and mentioned they were looking for a director.

“The last time they needed a manager, my sister applied,” Hensel said. “But she was in Taiwan when they did the interview. She was working for a medical college there and she didn’t come back in time for the interviews.

This time, when the post opened again, Crawford was back in Taiwan – and his flight home was delayed from January to April.

“Again, she was going to miss the interview,” Hensel said. “We started thinking it would be the perfect job for us to split up, because she doesn’t really want to work full time and I have to work in the frameset. So we share the hours at the museum.


The County History Museum ensemble displays the fashions of past generations of Hubbard County residents. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 6, 2021)

Crawford handles grant writing and social media for the history museum, while Hensel described his specialty as “more people-related — talking to you, advertising, communicating with the board of administration, that sort of thing. We have different skills. »

“Now that I’m retired, when Tami brought up the idea, I was thrilled,” Crawford said. “She’s the perfect person for the job, and she just said, ‘Laurie, if you can cover half the hours, we can do it.’ And I said, “Sure…and I can do some of the things that you don’t want to do, and you can do some of the things that I don’t want to do.”

Hensel said she thinks it will work well, “because I have a lot of experience in display and curation and graphics and that kind of stuff, and she has a lot of experience in words and l ‘computer science.”

Crawford observed that Hensel is “very Park Rapids, and I’m kind of a city mouse. It is she who has the knowledge that is an integral part of the job. I just do a little social media.

While Hensel was content to call the sisters “co-directors” of the museum, Crawford downplayed her role, saying, “Tami is the big poobah; I’m only the labor for the first half of the week.

“We were so excited when we got to interview them,” Rumpza said. “We said, ‘It’s like having two of the best people working together.’ It’s going to work great.”

Crawford said she agreed to help her sister on the condition that Hensel be the boss. “We don’t want democracy here,” she said. “It takes too long to agree on things. And she said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t want work to separate us, so that might be a good idea.’


The historic Hubbard County Courthouse now houses the County Historical Museum, starting on the first floor, and the Nemeth Art Center upstairs. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 6, 2021)

Hensel and Rumpza shared their enthusiasm for local history by taking a tour of the museum and pointing out favorite areas, such as the “toggerie” where clothing and accessories from bygone eras are displayed, the eight vault doors- built-in fort, a miniature newspaper and ice harvesting exhibit, a doctor’s office with bound copies of National Geographic dating back to 1888, a vintage classroom and a model of the old courthouse as it looked in past years.

“It’s a beautiful building,” said Crawford, who expressed an interest in architecture. “Each piece is a separate world. It only fires the imagination.

She also admitted that the toggery “brings the girl into me”, although she also loves the display of old typewriters.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” Hensel said. “I find it fascinating, the continuity between when Park Rapids started and now, and how it has evolved. It’s like a living thing growing. Just as we change, Park Rapids has changed and grown. We all have our growing pains.

Rumpza admitted she hated the story when she was in school, “but it’s so personal. It makes it better.

She said the local perspective makes it so much more relevant than “what battle was on what date, somewhere far away”. For example, she noted of the toggerie costumes and accessories, “we know a lot of them wore them. These are families that were here in the early 1900s, maybe in the 1800s, and they still have family here. It’s just amazing to me.

“I’ve always loved the museum,” Crawford said. “My daughter-in-law in Japan is a museum professional who worked with Yayoi Kusama, who is the lady with the spotted pumpkin. This museum professional visited our museum and she was very impressed. She said he had incredible potential.

She said comments like that made her interested in taking the museum job. But with a doctorate in political science, she added, the lure of history isn’t hard to grasp. “I was fascinated to see the change over the decades, in Park Rapids as elsewhere,” she said.

Crawford recalled the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where she lived for a time. “It was in the early 90s before they made it more stupid for tourists,” she said. “They had lace back galleries, and they had all kinds of stuff, and then they cut it down to about a 12th of that, so they could get more people through. But we still have all the goodies.

The two sisters hinted at ideas for promoting the museum that they would like to have run by the historical society’s board of directors.

One project Hensel would like to work on is geocaching items at historical sites, such as tokens to visit the museum or redeem a prize at the gift shop. Another is to post photos of local building details, such as a brick pattern or the date on a cornerstone, and organize a scavenger hunt to locate them.

Hensel said the idea of ​​these projects would be “to bring people from the community into the museum, a bit more modern kind of outreach than the traditional fundraisers we’ve had.”

“Oh man, there’s so much we could do,” Crawford said. “We could get kids to reorganize and learn to be curators and catalog things.”

Feeling like a kid again seems to be a theme. “Tami and I are thinking together about all the fun things we could do,” Crawford said. “I wanted to do a horror movie at night, just to show the different moods of the rooms. But we’re working with the board and trying to act on their priorities, and so far it’s been fine. pass.

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Patrick F. Williams