ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dickinson Museum Center builds regional exhibit with visitors’ help

The walls lining the regional history side of the Dickinson Museum Center are packed with more items than possibly ever before. From ancient stone tools to World War II uniforms, the area's heritage is on display.

Museum Center Coordinator Angela Rayne stands among artifacts from the mid-1900s Wednesday in the Joachim Regional Museum wing.
Museum Center Coordinator Angela Rayne stands among artifacts from the mid-1900s Wednesday in the Joachim Regional Museum wing.

The walls lining the regional history side of the Dickinson Museum Center are packed with more items than possibly ever before. From ancient stone tools to World War II uniforms, the area's heritage is on display.

Museum Center Coordinator Angela Rayne said the museum has played host to plenty of visitors as it continues to engineer a new exhibit space in the Joachim Regional Museum wing through the use of public input.

Rayne described the activity as "an exhibit on how to make an exhibit" and said the first phase of the project, in which visitors developed a conceptual plan for permanent exhibit that outlines a timeline of Dickinson's history, has been completed.

"I think most people are getting a kick out of it," Rayne said of the exhibit-making process. " ... I think the part that's been most rewarding part for me is the public's acceptance of having their own voice."

Rayne said visitors who lent input repeatedly touched on the importance of incorporating "authentic artifacts" from Dickinson's history, whether that be everyday objects or rare pieces.

ADVERTISEMENT

As the exhibit moves into its second phase, Rayne said the focus will shift to the necessary steps of actually building out the exhibit, such as breaking out a budget and making a schedule.

Though the exhibit will be permanent, she said artifacts will be rotated and changed through time to "tell various stories" of the area's history.

While the human history side of the museum is undergoing change, the natural history presented by the dinosaur museum wing remains untouched. Part of the city's acquisition agreement for the former Dakota Dinosaur Museum artifacts required those exhibits to remain as they were originally for a period of one year after the completion of the transition.

Reorganization inside the regional museum runs parallel to a restructuring of the relationship between the groups that hold a leadership stake in the museum campus-namely, the city of Dickinson, the Southwestern North Dakota Museum Foundation and the Stark County Historical Society, a local branch of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the city, which is the owner of the campus, brought on an outside consultant about two years ago to help find a way to pull the various parties together to "help us operate as closely as a cohesive center as possible."

"When you have multiple entities trying to operate as one, that's not always easy," Kessel said.

The Museum Foundation acts as a managerial body for the Joachim Museum alongside Rayne. The Historical Society helps oversee the Prairie Outpost Park and Pioneer Machinery Building exhibits.

Kessel said he believed the museum center has recently "made some strides" in bringing the groups together under one plan and one advisory committee comprised of representatives from all the stakeholder groups. Moving forward, he hopes the process is concluded before another planned tourist attraction reaches fruition.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Our museum center has a tremendous opportunity in front of it, not only with the addition of the dinosaur museum operations, but also if the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library is constructed in our community," Kessel said. So long as the museum center is able to coalesce into a unified body before the presidential library is opened, he added, the campus could reap a significant boost to its visitor rates brought on by proximity to the major draw of the national library.

Rayne said the process has had "some challenges" regarding the molding of separate memorandums of understanding between the groups. She said the eventual consortium between the groups should incorporate other Dickinson citizens as well.

"While we still have each individual voice, but we should have a united whole as well," she said.

What To Read Next
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
The Dickinson Police Department responded to numerous calls for service over the past week, and these are just a few highlights of the incidents that occurred.
Dissenting city commissioner objects to rebranding, citing unknown cost, lack of public input and historical connection with old logo.
“Let’s put this in the rearview mirror,” Sen. Michael Diedrich, a Rapid City Republican said.