History is history

The Minnesota Historical Society is announcing huge proposed budget cuts. According to a news release, more than 90 people would lose their jobs, fewer books would be published and three sites would close.

You know my penchant for aviation, so I’ll weep silently for the the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls. It, along with Historic Forestville in Preston, and North West Company Fur Post in Pine City would be closed to the public.

Lindbergh, for the record, was good enough for Gov. Pawlenty to invoke in his 2008 State of the State address. “When Charles Lindbergh emerged from the plane, he said just what you might expect a Minnesotan to say, ‘Well … I made it,'” It’s easier to fly solo to Paris than it is to keep history alive in Minnesota, however.

Historic Fort Snelling would close for two days each week.

The Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River, Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia, Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, and Jeffers Petroglyphs in Comfrey would only be open weekends.

Maybe nobody cares about these particular cuts, the governor’s spokesman suggests.

“If you weren’t able to go to the Historical Society Library when you thought you’ might be able to, some people might notice that. It doesn’t seem like the Historical Society is trying to go overboard. I think their attempt here is one that presents a realistic approach as they seems like they look at the budget situation,” said Brian McClung.

But wasn’t the “Legacy Amendment” — that’s when you voted for a sales tax increase last fall — supposed to be a boon to cultural programs in the state?

  • Sarah

    I thought the Legacy Amendment was to help smaller arts groups, not mega-institutions that already have some sources of funding. I didn’t expect cultural funding money to be siphoned off to state government make up for budget deficits.

    Just think, if the MN Historical Society put everything it has in digital format on its website, then it could be shut down permanently. Why go in person to view when digital will do? I want everything to come to me. Heaven forbid, I don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to go somewhere to see something for real.

  • Mary L.

    The Legacy amendment will indeed help…but not until at least the middle of 2010 when the money begins to be collected.

  • Bob from Anoka

    Bob—you shouldn’t weep silently for the loss of the Lindbergh boyhood home—you should rage loudly.

    A young man, living in a small house on the banks of the Mississippi River dreams, works and imagines flying—he grows up some and follows his dream—in the process he becomes the first international hero of the 20th century. He becomes the inspiration for many to do amazing things in their lives. Oh, I guess Sarah is right, we can read, not feel the river breezes, see the woodbox needing filling with dry wood for the hot cookstove, or sit and imagine.

    And the Northwest Company Fur Post? Guess the message of globalization and race relations of over 200 years ago has no connection or relevance to today. Really, furs smell bad anyway.

    History where it happened is old school.

  • http://www.skyseastone.net/jvstin/ Paul

    As a member of the MHS, I feel saddened that I haven’t gotten to see a fraction of their sites yet, and now might not get to see ones I want to go to.

    Nuts!

  • Al

    We visit MNHS sites frequently and the cuts would be noticed by our family if it comes to that.

    I would be interested in finding out how the salary of Director Nina Archabal will be impacted. MNHS felt it appropriate to pay her in excess of a quarter million dollars a year in 2006 & 2007 according to the Star Tribune Non-profit 100 Report. Though MNHS does outstanding work, this level of compensation out of line for a non-profit organization. It sort of reminds me of the excessive executive compensation at 2 other MN non-profits, MPR & APM.