SMSU exhibited at the Musée historique de la Cie de Lyon | News, Sports, Jobs
A new exhibit at the Lyon County Historical Museum features Southwest Minnesota State University as part of a number of exhibits on the newly renovated second floor.
The SMSU exhibit includes a replica of the concrete pillar that supported the “Dome,” the most identifiable architectural landmark on campus before the January 2, 2002 fire that destroyed Food Service East and affected all other buildings on campus.
The exhibition features several glossy posters highlighting various aspects of the university’s history. One concerns former SMSU chairman Jon Wefald, the man who saved SMSU when enrollments fell critically. There’s one about the old Student Center lounge. Another on how the university came to be in Marshall. And another on the manifestations of the Vietnam War and racial tensions in 1969. In an exhibition box is a charred plate from the student dining hall, where the fire started, along with a mug and a piece of the original dome. There’s an old college t-shirt, furniture that’s an exact replica of the ’70s chairs found in the Dome Lounge, and a vintage softball uniform.
There’s also a touchscreen that features audio from author Carol Bly and former history professor Joe Amato speaking on rural issues at the 1982 Countryside Conference, and a recording of the inauguration speech by former President Connie J. Gores.
Some of the items on display are on loan from the Alumni Gallery on campus, said Jennifer (Schefers) Andries, a 2008 alumnus and museum director general. She graduated with a history degree and her current position fits perfectly with a passion she has had since fifth grade, growing up in Marty (Pearl Lake) near Kimball, a community of 900 south of St. Cloud.
She came to SMSU for several reasons: her mother grew up in Wabasso, and therefore knew the region from her grandparents; and she received several scholarships when she applied. “Many were linked to scholarships”, she said.
She interned at the Renville County Museum in Morton as a student, and this experience heightened her interest in working in a museum.
“I love the local history and connecting it to the history of the United States and the world. I love to know and share local stories.
She has been Managing Director since 2012 and took care of the opening of the second floor windows and the 150th anniversary of the County of Lyon. A picture book related to this anniversary is available at the museum and due to the pandemic many anniversary events have been delayed until 2021.
The museum is located in the former Marshall-Lyon County Library. The second floor was the children’s area. The entire second-floor renovation cost about $ 500,000, Andries said. The museum received a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, as well as over $ 160,000 which was raised locally.
“It took more than three years” for the renovation, ”said Andries. COVID-19 and the exposure changes have delayed opening by about a year, she said.
The SMSU exhibition is one of five thematic areas on the second floor. Others include community, industry, natural disasters, and agriculture. One thing that stands out is the advanced technology, which gives museum visitors a more convenient experience. There’s even a karaoke area, where music from songwriter and native Tracy Dennis Morgan is presented (“I was country, when country was not cool” – Barbara Mandrell), with Sean Tilman, native of Marshall, aka Har Mar Superstar.
The museum is run by a board of nine, and several have SMSU connections. Jeff Kolnick is a professor of history; Jan Louwagie recently retired as longtime director of the Southwest History Center, now housed in the SMSU McFarland Library; Bill Palmer obtained his secondary school license from SMSU; and Marilee Thomas, who works in the Office of University Deans.
The museum hired a company, Museology Museum Services of Minneapolis, to oversee the renovation. “They did the planning, research and construction of the exhibits,” she said. Western Print of Marshall printed the posters.
Andries said the SMSU display will hopefully increase in the future. “We would be happy to receive donations for display (SMSU)”, said Andries. “There is room for more. We have extra wall space and we could add a showcase.