Minnesota Historical Society Assists Isanti County Historical Society After Fire Destroyed its Main Building, Collections

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 10, 2011
Media contacts: 

Lory Sutton • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3140 • lory.sutton@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 • jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Minnesota Historical Society Assists Isanti County Historical Society After Fire Destroyed its Main Building, Collections

The Minnesota Historical Society is providing the Isanti County Historical Society with disaster relief assistance following the destruction of its building by fire on July 8.

“We are greatly saddened by this news and the great loss of historical collections and records that the Isanti County Historical Society has preserved so well for Minnesotans,” said Stephen Elliott, MHS director and CEO.  “We are working side-by-side with the Isanti Historical Society and their volunteers, even while the Minnesota Historical Society remains closed in the midst of the government shutdown.”

Kathy McCully, executive director of the Isanti County Historical Society said, “The damage is very extensive.  Much of what the fire didn’t consume was damaged by water from the fire hoses.  Anything wooden, textile and most paper documents have been destroyed. The handles even melted off the file cabinets.”

“We are so thankful that the Minnesota Historical Society is here.  They are providing an invaluable service and bringing us expertise most organizations don’t have – an expertise that is giving us a strong focus in this time of tragedy,” said McCully. “Bob Herskovitz is leading us through the salvage process step by step.  There are many levels of decisions to make about what can be saved both from a content and financial point of view.”

The Minnesota Historical Society provides disaster response assistance, salvage and conservation of historic items in the event of tragedies such as floods, fires and tornadoes.  Bob Herskovitz, the Society’s outreach conservator, has 40 years of experience in the field and was one of the first conservators in the nation trained to provide disaster response assistance to organizations such as museums, historical societies, libraries, archives and other organizations that hold cultural property.  Herskovitz was trained and certified by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), and is a member of the AIC Conservation Emergency Response Team.  He provides technical advice, assists in organizing assessments of damaged cultural property, and determines recovery actions for damaged cultural property.

“Unfortunately, the Isanti County Historical Society has lost the majority of its collections,” said Herskovitz, “however there are collections that will be salvaged, perhaps some historical records, documents and photographs.”

The Minnesota Historical Society, its museums, historic sites and library are closed temporarily, and all programs and special events are suspended due to the State of Minnesota government shutdown. Funding from the state comprises more than half of the Society’s operating budget.

All historic sites and museums as well as the library at the History Center, will reopen and all programming will resume when the state government shutdown concludes and funding is available to operate the Society’s programs. Reopening information will be available at www.mnhs.org.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849 to preserve and share Minnesota history. 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. For more information, visit www.mnhs.org.