Museum offers hands-on demonstrations to the community

Typically a museum is all looks and no touching. But Dakota Buttes Museum in Hettinger is breaking that norm in an attempt to attract more of the community.

A volunteer (Left), Violet Olson (Center) and Francis Nelson (Right) allowed visitors to actually churn the butter at the Butter Churning station at the Dakota Buttes Museum. On Friday, Aug. 26 the community was invited to participate in hands-on demonstrations. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Record)
A volunteer (Left), Violet Olson (Center) and Francis Nelson (Right) allowed visitors to actually churn the butter at the Butter Churning station at the Dakota Buttes Museum. On Friday, Aug. 26 the community was invited to participate in hands-on demonstrations. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Record)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.com

Typically a museum is all looks and no touching. But Dakota Buttes Museum in Hettinger is breaking that norm in an attempt to attract more of the community.

As the museum season comes to a close in a few short weeks, Smith and the museum community kicked off the end of the year by inviting kids and students to partake in some hands-on demonstrations, based on the museum’s latest theme, ‘Women Homesteaders of the Northern Great Plains.’ The theme has been active at the museum since Aug. 5 and will run through Sept. 14.

“Because of that theme, we create activities and events around that theme, so that the community and the young people, and people of all ages and a wider [range] community can come in and experience those things first hand.” museum committee member Bonnie Smith said.

High school students join in the fun of the old time children’s games. (Photo by Bonnie Smith)
High school students join in the fun of the old time children’s games. (Photo by Bonnie Smith)

Smith said the theme was based on the display that was given to them by the State Historical Society. That theme was based on the book ‘Land In Her Own Name’ by H. Elaine Lindgren, which tells the stories of women homesteaders in North Dakota in the early 20th century. The museum previously held a book discussion on the subject and will also be hosting a bus tour on Sunday, Sept. 4.

On Friday, Aug. 26, the museum set up 10 different stations, based on life in the early days of homesteading, and gave the students a real-life look at how simple things were done during tough times.

The stations and their presenters included: Fermenting Vegetables (hosted by Abbey, Lily, and Jorgia Richards), Churning Butter (Violet Olson and Francis Nelson), Quilting (Val Braun and Anita Kirschman), Spinning, Weaving, and Singing (Eliza Loughlin and Lisa Harvester), Making Rope (Willard Ottman), Making Soap (Jill Kerzman), Washing Clothes (Amy Sandqvist, Lily and Jorgia Richards), Cutting and Laying Sod (Robert Carr), Attending Country School (Ceil Anne Clement), Playing Games (Rachel, Moriah, and Gethsemane Miller and Jess Coreau).

Students were guided from station to station by a group of volunteers of guides and hosts that included: Pat Buckmier, Sandi Nelson, Sandy Marion, Pat Mattson, Barb Luger, Carole Rosencrans, Richard Wyman, Rita Becker, Connie Were, Arlindo Seamands, Phyllis Emerson, Marge Yohe, Larry Jackson, Howard Nelson, Betty Svihovec, Norm Smith, Myrna Mertz, Vada Doerr, and Bonnie Smith.

The presenters gave the students a real experience by not only educating and displaying the daily activities of early homesteaders, but they also were dressed in early 20th century clothing.

To keep the students engaged, when applicable, the presenters allowed students to participate in the demonstration. For example, one of the more popular stations, according to Smith, was the butter churning station. Students were allowed to actually churn the butter, and get a feel for the energy it took early homesteaders to make a product that’s readily available in today’s supermarkets.

Though the theme was based on a book based on North Dakota homesteading, Smith said that since the communities are so close, it was decided to include homesteaders of both the Dakotas and incorporate those homesteaders and their stories to the display at the museum.

The museum’s season is coming to an end in the next few weeks, but some of the homesteading artifacts will be on display for a few years as they have been put in a rotation.







GAMES