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Robin Wipperling moved from Pier 55 down the hall to the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation offices, where she is manager of the new Red Wing Pottery Museum. (Photo by Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor)

Wipperling shifts to collecting

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Like most Red Wing natives, Robin Wipperling grew up with pottery.

Her father, Forest Wipperling, especially liked crocks and stoneware. An aunt, Dorothy Thompson, was among the women who painted designs on plates for a living. Other relatives had their own favorites among the multitude of locally made stoneware, art pottery and dinnerware items.

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Now Wipperling has joined the ranks.

As manager of the Red Wing Pottery Museum, a new position created by the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation, she spends her days surrounded by pottery, stoneware and the collectors who are working to preserve the Red Wing Pottery legacy.

Wipplering was program developer for the Red Wing Area Seniors before moving down the hallway to the new Red Wing Pottery Museum on April 1.

The seniors group and the pottery foundation jointly purchased the former Pottery Annex building off Old West Main Street. Seniors are in the east portion and an expanded pottery museum is being developed on the west side. The two share the central atrium.

Earlier this year the foundation’s Red Wing Pottery Museum collection was moved from the second floor of Pottery Place Mall across the parking lot to temporary quarters in the new building.

It’s open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Wipperling and Stacy Wegner, executive director of the Red Wing Collectors Society, both have offices in the new space. In addition to the business center and the 7,000-square-foot exhibit space that is under development, there also are rooms designated for meetings and conferences, a library, a gift shop and storage.

Wipperling has been networking in the community and marketing the new museum. She also will be responsible for setting up museum tours, scheduling events and use of museum spaces, recruiting and overseeing volunteers and running the gift shop, which will feature original Red Wing pottery and stoneware. About 2,500 pieces have been donated to sell there.

Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up now by calling her at 651-327-2220,

“I want to help Red Wing discover what’s here,” she said. “I’ve learned so much myself.”

One of the joys of welcoming visitors to the museum is hearing their stories and memories about the Red Wing Pottery industry, she explained. She plans to record some of those reminiscences and make them part of the legacy being preserved by the foundation.

Wipperling and her husband, Keith Kaiser, have been working alongside the many volunteers who are working on the exhibit space.

Kaiser, who grew up in North Dakota, has become “hooked” on collecting pottery, Wipperling said. And she’s on the hunt for a Red Wing collectible that caught her eye. If you’ve got a shmoo salt and pepper set with a price tag, stop in some time and see her.

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Ruth Nerhaugen
Ruth Nerhaugen spent three decades working for the Republican Eagle. She continues to write periodically in her semi-retirement.
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