The Minnesota Historical Society’s artifact collection contains more than 225,000 artifacts dating from 1,000 years ago to the present. The collection consists primarily of objects made or used in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.
These artifacts are organized by categories, or classifications, such as technology, social and cultural activities, arts and crafts, agriculture, textiles, transportation, domestic life, business, leisure, military history, and politics. Together, these objects help the public and scholars alike understand the lives of Minnesotans across time.
Several areas of collecting are particularly noteworthy:
- The Native American collection of 4,200 objects is well-known for its depth and quality.
- The textile collection of nearly 25,000 items includes clothing worn by Minnesotans, from farmers to politicians to athletes. One highlight: the nation’s largest single museum collection of undergarments — 3,500 items donated by Munsingwear, Inc.
- The furniture and decorative arts collection contains many fine objects from the Arts and Crafts movement, including pieces made by the Handicraft Guild of Minneapolis, and furniture and textiles by George Washington Maher and John Scott Bradstreet.
- Minnesota’s businesses are well-represented through advertising and products from companies such as 3M, Honeywell, Pillsbury, Control Data Corporation, Northrup King Co., Ken Davis Products, and the Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroads.
Searching the collection
Many artifacts from the collection can be seen on exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul and at the Minnesota Historical Society’s historic sites throughout the state. Additional collections, currently not on display, are being stored and preserved for future exhibits, research, and other educational uses.
Catalog information for approximately 8,000 artifacts is currently listed in Collections Online. These include arts and crafts, furniture, fur trade, and military collections.
Additional information about the collections is available in card catalogs, photograph files, electronic records, and reference files. These are housed within the collections department at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. To schedule an appointment to study these records and collections, please submit an access to collections form. Contact the collections department at 651-259-3252, contact the historic site directly, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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