A spring groundbreaking is in the works for construction of a 30,000 square foot building that will become the new home of the Becker County Museum in Detroit Lakes.
Before that happens, however, the museum still needs to raise "just under $500,000" in funding for the $6.4 million project, according to Becky Mitchell, the museum's executive director.
"Our public campaign is in the home stretch," she said, adding that anyone who has been thinking about making a donation toward the museum's capital campaign should consider doing so now, so they can meet their fundraising goal prior to the start of construction.
"It's important to make sure we’re at our full amount before we put a shovel in the ground," said Mitchell, noting that "no donation is too large, or too small."
The biggest problem right now, she added, is that state-mandated COVID-19 safety restrictions have made it difficult to plan the kind of public fundraising events that the museum has held to reach their financial goals in the past. In fact, she said, the museum itself is currently open to the public by appointment only, at least through the end of January. Those who would like to check out the facility, purchase something from the gift shop, or make use of its research library, are encouraged to call ahead and make sure there is staff available to assist them. Museum hours are currently 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, though arrangements can be made to schedule a tour or research appointment during off hours.
The museum is also offering craft and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activity kits for families to enjoy working on projects together at home. Kits are available for making things like a Snoopy coin bank, a Bluetooth speaker, and a small wooden catapult system that can launch objects into the air, just to name a few. Kits can be purchased at the museum's website, beckercountyhistory.org, and can be accessed by clicking on the "store" link at the upper right hand corner of the page.
For those who do schedule a tour, there is at least one new museum exhibit that was just slotted into place this month: The office desk and chair of former U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson, whose 30-year tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives ended this month. These items were taken directly from Peterson's office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and will eventually become part of a larger exhibit of items that Peterson has donated for the museum's permanent collection, including some of his papers, photographs and other Congressional memorabilia.
"We just don't have room for all of it here (in the current building)," Mitchell said, but once the new museum is ready for them to move in — hopefully by spring of 2022 — Peterson's full collection will be available for viewing.
"It will be about an 11-month project," she said of the new building, which will be attached to Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre via a shared lobby and gift shop area. The current museum building, which sits across the parking lot from the Holmes Theatre, will eventually be demolished to make way for additional parking to serve patrons of the museum, theater and adjacent community center. The Holmes Theatre is part of the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center complex, which also includes a pool, fitness center, three-story indoor playground, child care pods, art gallery and senior nutrition site.