Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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International Museum Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 18, 2021

Today is International Museum Day.
This is a photo shows an historical project at the Rice County museum in Faribault, undertaken as part of the Works Progress Administration in 1936.

PIzza Joint

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 14, 2021

Remember skyways? It's been so long!
This photo shows a pizza joint in Northstar Center, Minneapolis, in 2002.
It forms part of the Minneapolis Skyways series by Dick Anderson.

Bitterns Hope

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 13, 2021

This pastel drawing was made by artist Karen Savage-Blue. It is titled "Bitterns Hope" and was created in 1993. 
It show a marsh scene of cattails and tall grasses meeting a blue-gray sky. Amidst the cattails at the left is a bird with its' long pointed yellow bill directed towards the sky; five animated white clouds arch through the sky above. 

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 12, 2021

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month we are featuring this traditional wooden Karen musical instrument called "ter na kay klaw." It was made by Karen artist Tha Gay Paw and retailed at REACH Together in Saint Paul. It has a rectangular body and a long sloped neck that is decorated with black marker, a purple pom-pom, a gold metal sound hole with miscellaneous holes punched in, and a red leather strap. Tha Gay Paw made this instrument from items he found on walks, such as parts of lumber, part of a chair, a strap from a purse, yarn, wire, nails, and black marker.

Happy Statehood Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 11, 2021

This button was made in 1996 to commemorate Minnesota Statehood Day at the State Capitol on May 11. Buttons like these were handed out to school groups and state legislators.
The gopher is particularly fun on this year's iteration.

Modern Mothers

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 10, 2021

We hope everyone had a good Mother's Day yesterday!
Since mothers are worth celebrating every day, today we feature this lithograph by Adolf Dehn, titled "Modern Mothers." It shows three very stylish women sitting on chairs, each one with a small dog. 
This print was created in 1928.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 7, 2021

This map is titled "Louisiana." It was created by Samuel Lewis in 1804.
It is particularly interesting because it was made in the same year that the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, left from St. Louis. Also note the surprising perspective, and that it reaches up to Hudson's Bay.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 6, 2021

Come see this 1942 edition of "Arrowsmith" and many, many more works by Sinclair Lewis in the new exhibit, "Sinclair Lewis: 100 Years of Main Street."
It’s beautiful and fascinating!


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 5, 2021

How would you describe this hat? Jaunty springs to mind.
It is a soft shape brownish gray felt hat with upturned brim, felt edging, and one large flight feather from a Great Argus Pheasant wrapped around base of crown. 
Bessie Pearson of Saint Paul wore this hat in 1919.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | May 4, 2021

April shows bring May flowers!
This watercolor of the Blind Gentian was made as part of the WPA Art Project in 1941 by Lloyd Quackenbush.
It shows a single stalk with three showy blue flowers and large narrow leaves. The titles (including Latin) are written below.