Our temporary exhibits provide staff the opportunity to take an in-depth look at specific themes, events, time periods individuals and objects from the county's past and share it with visitors. We produce one major temporary exhibit annually. The exhibit opens in early February and runs through September. The Laura Dunlap exhibit gallery, located just off our exhibit entrance, houses these temporary exhibits.
Extended! - The State Welcomes You: Minnesota's Third State Hospital
The State Welcomes You provides a general history of the Fergus Falls State Hospital as it evolved through the administrations of its first four superintendents: Alonzo Williamson, 1890-1892; George Welch, 1892-1927; William Patterson, 1927-1968; and Robert Hoffman, 1968-1984.
Temporary Traveling Exhibit Opens December 27, 2012: Commemorating Controversy The Dakota - U. S. War of 1862 The exhibit was produced by Gustavus Adolphus College students, in conjunction with the Nicollet County Historical Society. Twelve panels explore the war’s causes, voices, events, and long-lasting consequences.
Coming February 2013 - Snapshots of the Sixties (Working Title) Revisit the 1960s in Otter Tail County. Although this exhibit has been postponed we are still collecting stories though our blog. Click Share your stories below to contribute.
We have created a place online for those of you who lived through the 1960s in Otter Tail County to share your stories. Tell us where you were, what you were doing, what you believed and how that influenced your future. Against all the turbulence, life went on and we are interested in the day-to-day activities of county residents too. As the year goes on, we will create a timeline of local events that might spur memories, so keep checking back. Share your stories.
Coming February 2014 - Civil War Veterans (topic) Civil War veterans came to Otter Tail County shortly after the war and made numerous contributions to the county as early pioneers, businessmen, township organizers and much more. This exhibit will explore their contributions to the county and the far reaching effects of those contributions.
Coming May 30, 2014 - July 11, 2014 - Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War
The exhibition encourages visitors to understand the Civil War as a test of the U.S. Constitution, to consider Lincoln’s options through his own eyes, and to reflect on the significance of that great 19th-century conflict for Americans today.
The exhibit presents visitors with provocative questions, along with information that enables visitors to answer them on their own; suggestions for linking the Civil War era with our own; and opportunities to respond to the exhibit from their own perspectives.
Lincoln was one of our most eloquent presidents, and wherever possible, the text of this exhibition is taken from his own words. Exhibit text includes the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment, as well as the Order to Blockade the Southern Ports, which marked the official start of the Civil War.
This exhibit is a collaboration between NEH, NCC, and ALA. See the ALA website for more information.
2011 Money Isn't Everything
Inspired by the 2008 economic downturn, Money Isn't Everything used historic events and time periods to illustrate that there have always been hard times and economic uncertainty. Otter Tail County, while never effected as strongly as other parts of our nation, has felt the repercussions of national trends. Times of bounty and deficiency are embodied by the objects in the historical society's collection.
Using sayings everyone recognized such as: "It's better to give than to receive," "Money doesn't grow on trees," "All that glimmers is not gold," "Easy come, easy go," "A fool and his money are soon parted," and "A hand up, not a hand out," museum staff explored the very broad topic of money and how money is tightly woven into all aspect of our lives.
The exhibit was graphically inspired by the game of MONOPOLY®. Children and families were encouraged to use the display as their game board, playing our simplified version of the game while they visited.
2010 Otter Tail County Between Fences
The exhibit opening coincided with the opening of the Smithsonian's traveling exhibit Between Fences which we hosted from February 5 - March 20, 2010. We used the same five themes found in the Smithsonian's exhibit to explore Otter Tail County's history and relationship with fences.
The exhibit is about home and the land it stands on. It is a story of the settling of Otter Tail County, the establishment of its communities, and the building of its borders. It's a story of people, animals, crops, and dirt. It's about intimacy and conflict, creativity and industry, restraint and liberation. In other words, the exhibit is about fences.
2009 Myths & Legends
This exhibit brought together some of the more edgy stories from Otter Tail County's past. It provided everyone, from the casual vacationer to the longtime resident, with a smorgasbord of surprises that both disturbed and delighted. We opened the exhibit with a replica of Sam Spade's detective office. Visitors were encouraged to put on their detective caps too.
The exhibit was arranged under the following categories and subcategories:
- Legendary Crime & Criminals
Sheriffs 1868-1954: Jesse Burdick, Michael Anderson, Gunder Bartelson, Alonzo Brandenburg, John S. Billings, Edward J. Sawyer, Orris Albertson, Olger J. Tweten, John Henkes; Criminals: John Trivitz, Adelbert Goheen, Nels Olson Holong, Ned Wilson
Legendary Men & Women
We included: Einar Mickelson World War II hero who captured the community's admiration and member of the "Flying Tigers"; Marie J. Blaisdell known as "The Minnesota Blizzard" who blazed a path to reclaim her husband's Civil War pension; Guzzling Gus Comstock who achieved fame while consuming 85 cups of coffee in six hours; Olava Wick who practiced medicine and was known for her special salve; The Dewey Brothers who were among the best marksmen in Minnesota; Karen Nyberg who was part of the space shuttle mission in June 2008; Janet Karvonen basketball legend known nationally after scoring 3,129 points, a state record that was not broken until 1997; Hannah Kempfer Minnesota's first woman legislator; Mary MacLane who created a nationwide sensation with the 1902 book The Story of Mary MacLane. She wrote openly of drugs, death, the Devil, bisexuality and beauty; George B. Wright who saw potential for Fergus Falls while surveying for the U. S. government; Melvin "Fritz" Hanson, a native of Perham, who went on to play professional football in Canada after a great high school and college career.
- Medical Myths & Legends
Quackery, Nostrums and Cures?; Linda Hazzard; The Fergus Falls State Hospital
- Swindlers & Con Artists
Lord Gordon Gordon; Gypsies; Marcus Shaw
- Unsolved Mysteries
James Craigie; Mooring Stones; Gerda
- Persistent Myths
Stealing the County Seat; 3M turned away by Fergus Falls leaders.
- Legendary Places & Events
Fort Juelson, The Great Fergus Falls Cyclone of June 22, 1919; Inspiration Peak; The Cold War and the Ku Klux Klan activity in Otter Tail County.
2008 We Chose Otter Tail County
For this exhibit we put on our explorer hats and tracked down the first settlers in all 62 townships. We wanted to know how they came to settle in Otter Tail County and what stops they made on their way to America and then within the United States and Canada before arriving in Otter Tail County - for many this was their final destination.
2007 Key Ingredients: Otter Tail County By Food
In 2007 we hosted our first Smithsonian Traveling exhibit, Key Ingredients: America By Food as a host site you are encouraged to produce a companion exhibit which is exactly what we did.
2006 Clothes Make the Man
An exhibit featuring men's clothing and accessories. This exhibit brought out of storage more than 72 objects from our extensive collection of men's clothing, uniforms, and accessories.
2005 All Dressed Up
An exhibit featuring women's clothing and accessories. This exhibit brought out of storage more than 91 objects from our extensive collection of women's clothing and accessories.
2004 To Your Health: Hospitals of Otter Tail CountySt. Luke's Hospital, Fergus Falls, 1903-1950
Wright Memorial Hospital, Fergus Falls, 1906-1952
Lake Region Hospital, Fergus Falls, 1950-Present
Leibold Hospital, Parkers Prairie, 1916-1948
St. Raphael's, Parkers Prairie, 1949-1959
District Hospital, Parkers Prairie, 1963-1991
Pelican Valley Health Center, Pelican Rapids, 1951-1993
Community Hospital, New York Mills, 1967-1983
St. James Hospital, Perham, 1902-1959
Perham Memorial Hospital, Perham, 1959-Present
2003 Cheers for Chairs
An exhibit about the history of chairs and devices used while seated. This exhibit featured 62 objects from our collection including numerous Whiting Chairs and several Kellogg chairs manufactured here in Otter Tail County as well as handmade immigrant chairs, folding, rocking, go-carts, sleds, potty, ice fishing, office and more.
2002 OTCHS Celebrates 75 Years
This exhibit focused on the 75 objects remembered by former staff and volunteers who contributed stories about them for the exhibit.
2001 Made in Germany
A look at the objects in our collections that were made in Germany or influenced by those of German heritage.
1999 Reaching the Millennium A-Z
Each letter of the alphabet was used to explore the history of Otter Tail County.
1998 Rural Schools of Otter Tail County
A photo exhibit based on a survey of the 189 rural schools of Otter Tail County.
1997 125th Anniversary of Fergus Falls and Perham
Both Fergus Falls and Perham celebrated their 125th Anniversary in 1997 - what a great reason to celebrate!
A look at the major events in county residents lives through our collections.
1995 Traveling Exhibits: Failure is Impossible, Helen Whittemore Photographs, The Vesterheim Collection
1994 Through the Camera's Eye
Highlights from our photo collection, photographers, and camera equipment.
1993 A Familiar Framework: Community, Friendship and Quilting and The Otter Tail County Historical Society Museum: A 20 Year Retrospective
1992 Present of the Past
1991 WWII: The Home Front
Questions about this web site? Contact our Webmaster.