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Darlene Kallis points out the laundry room in the Mott Gallery of History and Art.
Darlene Kallis points out the laundry room in the Mott Gallery of History and Art.

Mott showcases its art and history

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lifestyles Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

MOTT

A metal sculpture of a biker greets visitors when they walk into the Mott Gallery of History and Art.

Crafted by artist Raymond "Oscar" Rogers, the sculpture is among the many pieces of art displayed by Mott artists.

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"We get people coming from everywhere," volunteer Joyce Hinrichs said. "You never know who is going to walk through the doors. Somebody is always looking for something."

Hinrichs and her husband moved to Mott around 13 years ago, so she feels like a native.

"Mott took me under their wings and I felt very quickly as part of the group," she said.

Hinrichs volunteers whenever she sees the need, but the museum and gallery are her first love.

"It's a pleasure meeting the people who come in -- somewhere they will find something that delights them," she said. "You have to be ready to answer their questions or look it up."

Hinrichs is a hostess once a month when the museum is open. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. It is open additional hours when tours of the Stern Homestead are underway.

Start of the museum

Board volunteer Geno Sloan said the museum was organized 10 years ago when Hettinger County held its centennial. A temporary museum was set up in the empty Methodist church building.

"Everybody liked it so well, the next year a group wanted to keep it," she said.

When the First National Bank building became available, the city purchased it with the intent of moving the museum there.

"We had five years to make it a success," Sloan said. "We've had it now for eight years."

Volunteer board director Darlene Kallis played a key role in gathering the collections and doing research.

"The displays were easy," she said. "You'd be surprised at the memorabilia that people had in their houses."

Mott's origins

Mott businesses were invited to submit items that represented their history. One display depicts the floods along the Cannonball River that separate East and West Mott.

"Mott was started by Mr. Barth and Mr. Brown," she said. "They each had a land office and were in competition for homesteaders. The West kept flooding out and most of the diehards will not move."

She spent countless hours doing research in the Hettinger County Curthouse, where the school records are stored. She started with 1907 through the present day.

"I researched all 32 country schools in Hettinger County," she said.

She moved on to the newspapers that are stored in the courthouse basement.

"I interviewed some of the business people and I still keep up with them."

Her interest in Mott's history became infectious, and other volunteers stepped forward to help. Various people volunteered to maintain the art room, a military room and a school room.

Little bit of everything

"We have a little bit of everything in the kitchen," she said. "Someone donated the church organ from the Catholic church."

The building next to the bank is filled with the larger items, such as a threshing machine, vintage vehicles and farm tools.

To keep the museum interesting for the locals, the main display is changed every month. One year, it featured wedding dresses. It currently features a school display while pottery is slated next.

Kallis also does research on family histories and has compiled the research into books available in the museum's heritage room.

"I love history and I do a lot of reading, but I wish my memory was like a computer," she said.

She learned the Germans from Russia are the area's leading ethnic group, followed by the Norwegians.

Kallis is proud of the museum and would love to see people come for a visit.

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