Tackling history with ‘energy’
The Goodhue County Historical Society has found its new executive director.
“I’m just excited for this opportunity,” Heckman said. “I look forward to working with (the board) and getting to know the community.”
Broadening the reach of the historical society to areas outside of Red Wing is one of the organization’s top goals, and Heckman will play an important role in seeing it through, GCHS Board Treasurer Keith Fossen said.
“We’ve seen a lot of energy with new folks on the board, and to have a director who has as much or more energy as that is going to bring us into a special time in the future,” Fossen said.
Although he hasn’t been in Goodhue County for long, Heckman said he has heard about the reputation of the historical society and museum through his work in Mower County.
“It’s a nice facility with great archive storage space,” he said, “which a lot of museums are jealous of.”
A history undergraduate from Minnesota State University-Mankato, Heckman has worked six years as a historical society director and one year as a curator. He also served on boards for the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and Community Education Advisory Council in Austin, Minn., as well as the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums.
“I was impressed with the community involvement he has in Austin,” said Roger Hand, GCHS Board vice-chair and member of the interview committee. “I think that is something we need to reinvigorate our organization.”
Amy Nelson, who has been serving as interim director since Char Henn resigned from the job last summer, said she will stay on through a two-week transitional period and help Heckman get settled in his new role.
Heckman will be the History Center’s third full-time employee, Nelson said. It also employs two visitor services associates who alternate on weekends.
Heckman said he is looking at nearby housing options to relocate with wife Lynn and 6-month-old daughter Nora from their home in Blooming Prairie, Minn.
“I love the look of it,” said Heckman about the Red Wing area. “The bluffs, the river — it’s very attractive to see and I think it will be fun to explore when all the snow is gone.”
Lynn Heckman added that she likes how many parks there are for their daughter to get out and play. “There are just tons of them here.”
The historical society will hold an open house to welcome Heckman 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday April 3 at the Goodhue County History Center, 1166 Oak St.