by Maureen Jonason, Executive Director
Throughout 2023, HCSCC met all of its budgeted fundraising goals and paid all its bills on time. Programming fulfilled our mission to collect, preserve, interpret and share the history and culture of Clay County and our two strategic priorities to 1) “Expand the circle” to include Native Americans, immigrants, other recent arrivals, and under-represented groups and 2) Continue to develop experiences that invite people to share their own stories and those of others.
The Ralph’s Corner Bar exhibit continued into 2023. In the hall cases and atrium, Downtown Moorhead: 150 Years of Change and WDAY TV Negative Collection drew a lot of visitors the first half of the year. The traveling exhibit Patient No More took up the atrium all summer. Aug. 1, At Last: Ten Years of Marriage Equality in MN opened and continues into 2024. The traveling exhibit Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories shared the difficult history of this US government initiative Oct. – Jan. The Ihdago Manipi: Clay County at 150 exhibit continued in the lowest level through 2023.
A busy year of programs began with wine culture classes at the Hjemkomst Center and special wine dinners at the Comstock House, a total of 4 classes and 3 dinners throughout 2023. In February, our Black History Month presentation on the Rondo Brothers of Moorhead was held at MSUM. In March, a special jazz concert celebrated the legacy of Dr. James Condell, a longtime Moorhead jazz musician and MSUM psychology professor, who died in 1998, as part of the Ralph’s exhibit programs. HCSCC Programming Director Markus Krueger gave a live-streamed tour of the Ralph’s exhibit in April and continued his monthly History-on-Tap presentations at Junkyard Brewery October to May. May is always packed with school tours with about 1500 children seeing the exhibits. June included the HCSCC annual meeting and a Juneteenth celebration while tours of Comstock House began. HCSCC also started offering monthly sensory-friendly Tuesday nights.
An opening reception for the At Last exhibit took place Aug. 1, and Aug. 12 was an Ojibwe jingle dance demonstration. Sept. 12 a large crowd learned about the history of pockets from textiles curator Susan Curtis, and Sept. 26 Brain Cole presented on his new book Once a Spud . . . 150 Years of Moorhead Public Schools. On Oct. 24, Ralph’s Corner Bar fans raised a final glass to celebrate this iconic watering hole at the exhibit’s closing. On Nov. 14, Dr. Denise Lajimodiere presented on her book Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable, and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors for the opening of the Away from Home exhibit. The 29th annual Pangea—Cultivate Our Cultures Festival took place with over 1000 visitors on Nov. 18. On Dec. 2, over 200 people gathered to hear Bud Larsen, Fargo Spelemanslag, and Loretta Kelley perform hardanger fiddle favorites and learn about this national instrument of Norway with a reception of Scandinavian goodies afterward.
With the support of grants, we accomplished a number of special projects in 2023: The Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) provides funding each year for HCSCC to manage the Comstock House. In addition, MHS funded an Historic Structures Report for the Rollag One-room Schoolhouse to assess its conservation needs, the construction drawings for Bergquist Cabin for future conservation treatment, the conservation treatment of a 1934 painting done by Swedish immigrant Erik Ahlberg, a new flat textiles cabinet and metal quilt stand, the printing of the book Prairie Daughters: The Art and Lives of Annie Stein and Orabel Thortvedt which will be published in 2024, and interpretive signage to be installed adjacent to the Felix Battles monument at MSUM.