In Focus: Stories From Lake Of The Woods Displayed Through County Museum
From a real nickelodeon to a working printing press, the Lake of the Woods County Museum perfectly displays what life is like up north.
“It was built in 1978. There’s a little bit of everything. There’s natural history, fishing, tourism, military,” says Lindsay Marshall, the museum’s current executive director.
A lot has happened in Lake of the Woods over the years, and this museum says it all. It tells the story of the pharmaceutical industry and the 1910 fire that burned down the town of Baudette. Most of the items come from families of Lake of the Woods.
“[it’s] stuff that people brought over that’s from their family, like from Europe,” says Marshall.
“You see the commercial fishing and the sports fishing and the agriculture and the forestry and the fire and all those things have kind of had their impact,” says Marlys Hirst, who previously served as the museum’s executive director for 30 years.
Since almost every item comes from a family, you can imagine that everything has its own story.
“I think it really grounds the local people in their path. I think when a lot of local people don’t really appreciate their past until they come in and they start looking around and they realize it. Some of them they think it’s all too recent because they see things that they used and remembered,” says Hirst.
The Lake of the Woods County Museum displays history from as early as 1910 to as a recent as the 21st century. As you can imagine with so much to show, exhibits are always changing and rotating in and out.
When asked about how many she thinks are displayed in the museum, Marshall says, “Oh my gosh, thousands, because there’s a bunch of stuff on display, but then we also have a bunch of stuff in three different storage rooms, so right now, we’re trying to go through and count everything and figure out where everything is so then we can swap out the exhibits.”
Even with such a vast collection on hand, the museum is still focused on growing.
“As time goes on, I’d like to see more activity at the museum. We have a new addition that allows for programming, so I hope to see more growth in that area. People coming for specific programs whether it’s to learn about a certain skill of the past or just a lecture,” says Hirst.
The museum is currently closed, although anyone with a Lake of the Woods history question can stop by and talk to Marshall. The museum will reopen in the middle of May.