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Olmsted County History Center Undergoing Renovation

Updated: 06/09/2014 6:57 PM
Created: 06/09/2014 6:56 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Looking towards the future can be difficult when your feet are firmly planted in the past. But the Olmsted County History Center has figured out a way.

Some of the last glimpses were caught today, as the center began the process of deconstructing itself in favor of a newer, more modern look. 

"We want to make sure that this is a world-class type of museum," said Olmsted County's History Center Executive Director Lisa Baldus.

Through the front doors of Olmsted County's History Center, visitors encounter a huge mural and wall, but that will soon give way for a more breathable and spacious area.

"We have so many people coming in and out of Rochester daily. We always have, but we're growing at a very fast rate," said Baldus.

Museum officials want an entirely different experience, one that's more hands-on, interactive, and unpredictable from time to time.

"The only way we could do that is by pretty much gutting his place," said Baldus.

Items in the Paleolithic area are among the only materials that will remain in place. But, they will be lifted from the ground and put on displays so that the visitor can observe it better. There will also be a lot less words describing them, this is an example of what's called, "the living history initiative."

"And it's about how people learn with all five senses, they walk into a museum and they don't want to be force-fed the information and they don't want lines, lines, and lines of information," said Baldus.

Clothes and garments will replace wordy displays. Lengthy descriptions will be conveyed through short films or recorded voices. Several rooms will be used for large lectures or activity spaces for kids. Functionality will diversify.

"We'll have a number of exhibits, some will be permanent, some will be traveling, and some will be temporary," said curator Casey Mathem.

Within those exhibits, the relics and artifacts displayed within be replaced with other items and with them other themes. It's always going to be a surprise, unlike before.

"We're hoping with the changing exhibits that different audiences will be captured based on different interests," said Mathem.

The City of Rochester is at an interesting point with a growing and diverse population. At the History Center, the upcoming future will bring about a larger scope of the past of Olmsted County.

The construction is expected to last until the fall. As for the cost, the center's executive director says most of the work and materials have been donated.