Snap circuits, squishy circuits, circuits for powering radios and motion detectors, interactive models of electrical generators ... from now through Feb. 22, the basement level of the Becker County Museum will be filled with a variety of interactive exhibits that allow participants young and old to build basic electrical circuits and power up the machines that use them.
Meanwhile, in the upper level, there are several displays of equipment used by electrical workers, an old telephone switchboard — which still works, as demonstrated during a recent school tour — old telephones, electric distribution equipment, and the like.
It's all part of a traveling exhibit from the Minnesota History Center and the Bakken Museum called "Electrifying Minnesota," which opened at the Detroit Lakes-based museum on Oct. 26. Museum visitors will have an opportunity to peruse exhibits that not only show how electricity has transformed the lives of Minnesotans since 1882, and what makes the generation of electricity possible, but also such local tidbits as when electricity first arrived in Becker County, when and where the first telephone system in the county be came operational, and how the advent of electricity eventually led to the phasing out of such profitable local industries as ice harvesting.
"We've received local donations of power line, electrical distribution and home electrical equipment, as well as an exhibit about the history of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, which stepped up to be one of our sponsors," says the museum's executive director, Becky Mitchell. "They (DLPU) funded some of our interactive activities as well."
Though admission to the museum remains at $5 per non-member adult for the duration of the exhibit, it is free for all children under age 18 as well as for anyone who has an up-to-date, paid membership at the museum. In addition, it is free for all school groups that contact the museum to arrange a tour, and during special events such as the Brown Bag Lunch presentation set for this Wednesday, Nov. 13, featuring DLPU Energy Services Specialist Bridget Penton.
Penton's noon presentation on "Growing and Greening Our City" will be followed by an opportunity for lunch guests to tour the exhibits on both the lower and upper levels of the museum, at no cost. Participants can bring their own lunch, or contact the museum at 218-847-2938 no later than 10 a.m. on the day of the presentation in order to reserve a boxed lunch for $8. School groups as well as others hoping to learn more about the exhibit can also call the museum at the above number, or stop in at 714 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, during its regular hours of operation, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Saturday.