Icons of Minnesota' On View in Gale Family Library at Minnesota History Center, Display to Feature Historical Objects that Define Minnesota

For immediate release

Release dated: 
June 12, 2014
Media contacts: 

Lory Sutton • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3140 • lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Icons of Minnesota' On View in Gale Family Library at Minnesota History Center, Display to Feature Historical Objects that Define Minnesota

(June 12, 2014) What do the Vikings, The Great Gatsby, blueberry muffin mix, a walleye and the Pillsbury Doughboy all have in common? They are all Minnesota icons!

Thirty Minnesota artifacts will be on display in “Icons of Minnesota” in the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center from July 1 through Aug. 30. Included are iconic artifacts from government, popular culture, sports, industry, literature and folklore.

“Minnesotans take their icons seriously,” said Lori Williamson, acquisitions and outreach coordinator. “This small display shows some of the serious, fun and popular symbols that Minnesota has used to define itself through the years.”

Featured artifacts include:

  • Two artifacts honoring Metrodome baseball: Kirby Puckett’s 1984 rookie season baseball card, which will be on display for the first time and the Metrodome’s home plate.
  • A linen duster worn by a member of the James-Younger gang when they robbed the First National Bank of Northfield on September 7, 1876. The gang members wore dusters on their way into the bank in order to conceal their guns, but once inside the bank, dropped the dusters and demanded money from the vault. The duster was donated to MNHS in 1890 by George Baxter who prosecuted the Youngers for the robbery and murders. The duster served as evidence in the trial.
  • The Vikings “Farewell to the Met” pennant commemorating 150 football games played at Metropolitan Stadium, highlighting the first game versus the Chicago Bears in 1961 and the last game versus the Kansas City Chiefs in 1981. The Vikings beat the Bears, 37-13, but lost to the Chiefs, 10-6. Fans swarmed the field after the final game to grab a part of Met nostalgia. They pulled down goalposts, bleachers, loudspeakers in the end zone and pieces of the scoreboard. Nine people were arrested.
  • Official state icons, including the state’s territorial seal, created in 1849; the original Seth Eastman watercolor used to create the seal’s design; a re-cast die of the first state seal created in 1858; and a photograph of the 1858 seal which was lost in a fire at the Minnesota State Capitol in 1881, found by a passerby who took it with him to England, returned to Minnesota in 1901, and went missing again following an exhibition of state icons at the Capitol in 1984.
  • A set of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox salt and pepper shakers from the 1970s that were commonly found in tourist gift shops and kitchens throughout the state.
  • A rare copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1934 first edition of “The Great Gatsby.” Stamped on its cover with the statement “Discontinued Title,” this edition is the first and the only time book has been out of print since it was published in 1925. In the preface, Fitzgerald defends his book and dismisses its critics.
  • A plaster cast replica of the Kensington Runestone on view at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria. It is perhaps the most highly-debated icon in Minnesota history. Many authorities who have examined the stone have claimed it a forgery, but others are equally certain of its authenticity. Runic inscriptions are incised on the front and one side of the stone. Carved on the underside of the base is "FJK / FM / 38". These may be the initials of the makers of the casting and the date. The appearance of the stone is very similar to the original, which was discovered in 1898 by Swedish American farmer Olof Ohman, near Kensington, Minnesota. Scholars' translation of the inscription is as follows: "Eight Swedes and twenty-two Norwegians on an exploration journey from Vinland westward. We had our camp by two rocky islets one day's journey north of this stone. We were out fishing one day. When we came home we found ten men red with blood and dead. AVM save us from evil. We have ten men by the sea to look after our ships, fourteen days' journey from this island. Year 1362."
  • A 1991 Timberwolves megaphone which was purchased at Woolworth’s for $4.99. The promotional candy container was designed to hold miniature Nestle′ Crunch candy bars.

The artifacts were chosen from the vast collections of the Minnesota Historical Society which includes about 250,000 objects, 6,000 works of art, 300,000 photographs, 50,000 cubic feet of manuscripts, 50,000 cubic feet of state archives, 500,000 printed works, 1,245 cataloged moving images, 3 million feet of news film from KSTP-TV, and an oral history collection with 500 interview projects, 40 video projects and more than 2,000 hours of cataloged interviews.

The Gale Family Library and the “Icons of Minnesota” display are free to the public. The library is the premier place for research about Minnesota’s people, places, history and culture, and is home to the state archives, MNHS collections and family history resources. It is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is located on the second floor of the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul.

Admission to the History Center’s museum is $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and students with ID, $6 for children ages 6-17, and free to MNHS members and children ages 5 and under. The museum is free on Tuesday evening, 5 to 8 p.m. Museum hours are Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, the Society preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported by our Premier Sponsors, Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.