County museum gears up for a year full of events

Published 6:08 pm Saturday, January 12, 2013

Column: Preserving the Past, by Pat Mulso

With the holidays behind us we are springing into the New Year. We are busy planning all of our regular annual events and programs such as Discover History Day in May, school tours, Eddie Cochran Weekend on June 7-9, a Vintage Style Show on June 22, Echoes from the Past on Aug. 21, Autumn in the Village on Sept. 15 and our Christmas Gathering on Dec. 1. We are also planning a Christmas tour of homes for November. There will be one-day bus trips, library lock-ins, a genealogical trip to Salt Lake City, and a visit from Marion Ross. We have a few other projects in the works that we will tell you about once the details are worked out.

Pat Mulso

It will be another exciting year as the addition project continues to evolve. The inside is taking shape as the walls are being framed in and it is fun to see our vision becoming a reality. Some of the windows are installed and that is a major change to the museum, as we only have one small window in our original building. So having windows to view the village and see Bridge Avenue and the fairgrounds will be a new experience for staff and visitors. The ticket booth from the old Albert Lea High School will have a prominent location just inside our new front door and Colonel Albert Lea, also from the old high school, will have a new home on the second level just to the left of the entry to the Eddie Cochran/musical display area. With the library and meeting room moving to the new addition, there will also be changes to the existing layout, once the new addition is completed.

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The museum will be hosting a four-hour defensive driving class from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 11. The cost is $19 per participant and you must pre-register for the class. Call 373-8003 or stop by the museum at 1031 Bridge Ave. to register. We will need your driver’s license information at the time of registration. A four-hour refresher course is needed every three years after the initial eight-hour class, in order to continue receiving a 10 percent discount on your auto insurance. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The museum has good news; we were awarded a Library Legacy Grant: “Picture Freeborn County,” a photo scanning project to preserve a portion of our photo collection and make photos more accessible to our patrons and community. This is phase three of a very large project to sort, scan and label photos in our collection. As the photos are scanned and labeled they can then be viewed on the museum computers rather than having to be handled. We are able to print copies of the photos from the computer, sometimes with better quality than the original. A copy of the photos are also saved off site so in the case of a disaster, they would not be lost. Many of our photos are one of a kind, so being able to save a digital copy off site is a great way to ensure the safety of our collection for future generations.

We are coming to the end of our annual membership campaign. Thank you to the more than 300 members who have already renewed their memberships, and I encourage our remaining members to send in or drop off their membership dues by the end of January. For anyone who has not been a member in the past, I encourage you to become a member. Your membership entitles you to visit the museum as often as you like throughout the year, to use our library and archives and free admission to many of our museum events, such as Autumn in the Village and our Christmas gathering and discounts on other events.

Happy New Year’s from the staff at the Freeborn County Historical Museum, Library & Village. Remember, what happens today is history tomorrow!

Pat Mulso is the executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum in Albert Lea.