Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MHS In More Detail

Whoops! This post came out much later than I meant it to. There will be several posts this week to make up for my lateness. :)

But first...
A bit of MHS (the Minnesota Historical Society) history!
The institution was created in 1849 by the territorial legislature to preserve the history of the state of Minnesota. To quote the illustrious Wikipedia,
"The society owns and operates 29 museums and historic sites, some within the Minnesota state parks.[1][2] It currently holds a collection of nearly 550,000 books, 37,000 maps, 250,000 photographs, 165,000 historical artifacts, 800,000 archaeological items, 38,000 cubic feet (1100 m³) of manuscripts, 45,000 cubic feet (1300 m³) of government records, 5,500 paintings, prints and drawings, and 1,300 moving image items. These are stored in the $76.4 million History Center located in Minnesota's capital, Saint Paul."
One of the 29 museums and historic sites it operates is Historic Fort Snelling, where I'm working. In addition to maintaining amazing places, MHS also has a building downtown St. Paul, the Minnesota History Center, which acts as both the headquarters of MHS, but also as a museum.

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So MHS is big. It operates nearly 30 museums and historic sites. And that's not even getting in too deep. Since they have a substatial part to play in the state's archaeology, it wasn't surprising to find they had their own mission statement for the department listed on the MHS website.
"The mission of the Archaeology Department is to collect and preserve the materials and records of human culture relating to Minnesota and to relate the human story through research and interpretation. We promote stewardship of archaeological resources through educational outreach and public archaeology programs. Our research focuses on all aspects of Minnesota's past which includes the range of ethnic, social, and economic diversity reflected in its inhabitants."
The missions is broad and covers basically anything and everything that happened in Minnesota. Which is why, of course, MHS has a huge collection with oodles of artifacts. Which comes full circle back to me and my fellow intern Molly, since a small portion of artifacts are housed in the basement of Historic Fort Snelling's visitor center, including the collections from the University of Minnesota.

Cool tidbit:
MHS even has its own blog series called Collections Up Close which gives a close look at pieces of the collection that a visitor couldn't normally see. Their current post looks at Mungsingwear Underwear. ;) It's pretty cool and should totally be checked out.

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