Searching for Lyon County history

Tom Church and Bret Pearson have been nosing around Lyon County recently searching for information. But the two men aren't detectives looking for clues to a crime. They are actually museologists that work for Museology Exhibits and Museum Services in Minneapolis.

They have been hired by the Lyon County Historical Society Museum in Marshall to gather information with the interpretation focusing on county history since World War II.

A museologist is a person involved in the science or profession of museum organization and management. The information these museologists are researching is from 1945 to the present and will be used for a future second-floor exhibit at the museum.

“They are researching for us through a legacy grant we received,” said Jennifer Andries, the director of the Lyon County Historical Society Museum.

“A lot of museums focus on the pioneer era. We want to show more current history.”

After the museologists gather the necessary information on the county’s history over the past 70-plus years, Andries will apply for another large grant for fabrication through the Minnesota Historical Society. If all goes according to plan, the planned exhibit could be a year or two away yet.

“We are hoping to complete an exhibit script this winter and begin fabrication work next fall,” Church told.

“Depending on funding, fabrication will begin in January, 2019.” The theme of the proposed exhibit will be: “Making Lyon County Home”.

It’s a lonely and taxing job traveling around to research information that a museologist deems interesting and would be beneficial to the project they are hired for. In the case of the Lyon County Historical Society Museum, Church and Pearson will take in the communities within the county to talk to people, peruse newspaper clippings, and dig through any archived materials at historic and informational facilities.

“We are looking for stories in as many places as possible,” said Church, who is a native of Connecticut and has lived in Minneapolis the past 18 years.

“The key points of emphasis include human relationships with the natural environment, immigration experiences, and working in Lyon County. “Very broadly, we are looking for stories that illustrate why and how Lyon County has become home for so many different kinds of people.” Although the planning stages of the research project began in 2014, intensive research began this past summer. “This is a multi-month project,” said Pearson, who is a native of the Duluth area and now resides in Minneapolis. “So it will be news for quite a while.” Recently, the museologists were in the Mascot office looking through back issues. “We’re looking for stories that show how local residents have experienced some of the major events and demographic changes that have shaped Lyon County over recent decades,” Church explained. “We are also interested in stories that show how the community comes together – moments of celebration or support. We are especially interested in stories from towns outside of Marshall.”

Church and Pearson have worked with Andries on other projects in the past for the Lyon County Historical Museum. “They do a very good job,” Andries said.

“There is a lot of interesting and important history in Lyon County since World War II, such as the college coming here, the growth of businesses, the Tracy tornado and the Marshall flood.”

“I have been working as a museum consultant for the past five years after initial venture in the law and a brief stint as a teacher,” said Church.

“Museology has been around for seven years.”

Museology Exhibits and Museum Services has been in existence since 2010. “We work all over the state,” Church said.

“Getting to know so many different Minnesota communities is one of the best parts of our job.”

Jennifer Andries

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