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Renovations at the Runestone Museum

This Native American statue will soon be sporting a brand new buckskin dress as part of the renovations to the Runestone Museum’s Native American exhibit going on this month. She will be part of a diorama representing an authentic Ojibwe village. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)1 / 4
This Viking mural will be relocated to a higher spot in the Runestone Museum after renovations are completed later this month.2 / 4
This diorama in the Native American exhibit will be rearranged to represent an authentic Ojibwe village. Renovations in the museum should be completed by January.3 / 4
The famed Kensington Runestone is pictured in front of a newly constructed wall in the museum’s Discovery Room.4 / 4

Visitors to the Runestone Museum this month will notice some ongoing changes to its permanent Native American exhibit.

The museum is in the middle of construction that will expand the viewing space in a Native American exhibit. Jim Bergquist, manager of Alexandria’s Runestone Museum, said the construction is expected to wrap up by the end of January.

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The renovations also have slightly altered the Discovery Room where the Kensington Runestone is located. The primary purpose of the renovations is to give more space to tour groups as they follow their guides.

“When our group tours tried to come around the corner it was hard to fit everyone,” Bergquist said.

Construction crews also added extra insulation to a portion of the museum’s walls for extra warmth.

A diorama at the end of the exhibit will be slightly altered to depict an Ojibwe village. A diorama already existed in the exhibit, but the scene will be upgraded to better use the space and make it more authentic. A local Alexandria man is even creating an authentic buckskin dress replica for a Native American statue of a woman in the scene.

“When people come through, this village will be the last thing they will see,” he said.

The museum will also have a box diorama filled with Native American children’s toys. Bergquist hopes that kids who visit the exhibit will see the artifacts and try to spot the life-sized version of them in the Ojibwe village diorama.

“By playing with toys they would learn how to act when they grew up,” Bergquist said about the Native American children who used the toys.

A Viking mural donated to the Runestone Museum about 20 years ago will be relocated to a higher location in the Discovery Room. Officials are asking anyone with knowledge of the mural to contact the Runestone Museum.

The hope for the museum is to attract more groups now that the exhibits can accommodate more people. Fall is the busiest time of the year for group attendance, and this year about 500 Norwegians and Icelanders traveled all the way to Alexandria to visit the museum.

The museum also would like to double the amount of area classrooms that visit the museum. This fall about 15 to 20 classrooms visited on school field trips, and sometimes it was difficult for tour guides to explain portions of the exhibit to groups of up to 50 children.

“It was hard to get everyone in here to explain everything,” said Bergquist.

The museum raised funds for the renovations from its Past President’s Fundraiser last August, when about 200 people enjoyed a steak or chicken dinner.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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