The Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria has been making some big changes over the past several years. Some of those shifts in vision will come to life this season with new exhibits, more educational programs and new building projects.
"I'm excited for people to come and see all the changes we've done here," said the museum's assistant director, Becca Maciej. "We want to keep things fresh, keep things new. We want to tell all these different stories about the lakes because everybody has connections with the lakes."
In 2015, the museum changed its name from the Maritime Museum to the Legacy of the Lakes Museum as part of a vision shift for the scope of the museum. It received a $10,000 grant this spring that allowed the museum to hire a consultant company, Blue Stone Heritage, to help craft the next three to five years of exhibits.
Expanding the scope of their exhibits beyond just boats is only one facet of how the museum is evolving. A construction project of a new indoor event space called The Boat House will be finished this July. This space will be rented out to the community for events, but it will also house new educational projects so the museum won't have to compromise existing exhibits to host events.
"We're not just boats anymore," Maciej said. "Coming up we have classes on fishing with artificial lures, gardening, and there will be yoga in the gardens all summer. It's really nice because we're able to provide a more diverse calendar of events."
The museum partnered with Community Education to create a calendar of summer events that will bring people from all across the area into the museum.
On top of the additional educational ventures and event hosting, the museum will hold several Music in the Garden events for adults throughout the summer, and they will host three new exhibits that showcase different aspects of lake life.
Minnesota Boat Builders
The Minnesota Boat Builders exhibit highlights the role that Minnesota played in the vacation boom of the 1950s and 1960s.
"Boats got more accessible for the modern-day family then," Meciej said. "They were cheaper, they were easy to throw on a trailer and go. (Minnesota boat builders) changed the boating industry in the United States."
The amazing Gar Wood
Garfield "Gar" Wood developed a love for the lakes while growing up on Lake Osakis. Wood went on to become a famous and successful inventor, entrepreneur, boat racer and national icon.
The museum will showcase some of Wood's iconic boats. Both this exhibit and the Minnesota Boat Builders exhibit are already open to the public, and will remain so through the museum's 2018 season.
The museum's featured art exhibit this year is John Buck's Cat's Cradle exhibit, opening in mid-June, featuring six large kinetic wooden sculptures. Each sculpture consists of hundreds of independent wooden pieces that are connected and arranged with pulleys, gears and leather belts, so the pieces can move.
"They tell different stories about the past and the present," Maciej said. "Some of them are somewhat controversial and engage topics like immigration and American history. They're really interesting."
The work of Buck, who spends most of his time working from his studios in Bozeman, Montana and Hawaii, has also impressed Bruce Olson, the museum's executive director.
"Prepare to be wowed!" Olson said. "These sculptures consist of hundreds of pieces including gears, belts, and pulleys that bring them to life with a touch of a button. The craftsmanship that went into the creation of these pieces is amazing."
An expanded version of this exhibit was on display at the art museum last summer in Omaha, Nebraska, and drew more than 20,000 people.
Buck is in Alexandria this week to help set up the exhibit, and will be attending a members-only event on Friday, June 8, from 5-6 p.m. to discuss his work. This exhibit will be open to the public beginning June 9, through the rest of the season.
If you go
WHAT: Legacy of the Lakes Museum and Gardens
WHERE: 205 3rd Ave. W, Alexandria
WHEN: Weekday hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The museum is open through the end of October.
INFO: The Legacy Gardens, featuring walkways, water features and flower beds, is included in the museum admission.
COST: Admission for adults is $8, for seniors $7, for students $5 and for families $18. Children under the age of five are free accompanied by a paying adult.