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Have a grand ol' time

The one-room schoolhouse exhibit is a favorite among children, said Goodhue County Historical Society Executive Director Dustin Heckman.1 / 4
The history center is currently featuring the Sea Wing Disaster exhibit, open through the end of August. 2 / 4
See art like “Work #24” from American abstract artist Charles Biederman made from 1968-71 in Red Wing. The history center features more than 150,000 artifacts and archival materials.3 / 4
The Goodhue County Historical Society is the state’s oldest county history society whose collections include archaeological, military, business, government, organizational, school, farming, and family items.4 / 4

When was the last time you visited a museum? If nothing seems to spark your memory, make a mental note for a rainy day or steamy afternoon and check out the Goodhue County History Center.

Perched above Red Wing on Oak Street, the museum stands as the state’s oldest county historical society, housing more than 150,000 artifacts and archival materials.

“In the history center we have many exhibits from archaeology to agriculture to industry,” Executive Director Dustin Heckman said. “You’ll find varying topics for varying interest and lots to explore.”

Chartered in 1869 as the “Old Settlers Association,” the organization pledged to preserve the memories of old times and keep up the fond relations of the old-time boy’s, according to the Goodhue County Republican.

After 37 years of residing in the basement of the Courthouse, the society moved into the Baptist Old People’s Home building on College Hill in September 1969. Between 1989 and 1992, the building was remodeled to increase storage and exhibit space.

Today, the center’s roughly 30,000-square-foot space includes several floors — each nook and cranny filled with an artifact or local historic information to explore.

“Kids love the one-room schoolhouse exhibit,” Heckman said, noting it’s fun to see to the children experience what it was like to be schooled in that type of environment. The exhibit features all the details of a typical early 1900 to 1950s country schoolhouse.

New to the museum is the temporary “Sea Wing Disaster” exhibit, open now through the end of August. The lobby exhibit features additional items from the society’s collections and also items on loan through private collections of individuals. The museum also houses a permanent Sea Wing exhibit on the first floor.  

It’s so easy

This year, the center is making it easier and more affordable than ever to explore its treasures with free admission to all the first Sunday of every month.

August’s free first Sunday admission is made possible through a grant with Xcel Energy. Heckman said the special monthly discount has given the center a slight uptick in overall attendance.

On an average year, about 3,000 people visit the center, he added, which is lower than what is used to be.

“There are so many unique, different exhibits for everyone,” Heckman said. “You may find something you never thought interesting and will become interested in it.”

Following the free admission day hours Aug. 3, the museum will be open 7 to 8:30 p.m. for a family game night.

“We want to encourage folks to stay up here to watch the River City Days fireworks from our viewpoint,” Heckman said.

Regular admission is $5 adults, $2 ages 13-18, free for ages 12 and under. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; closed Mondays and major holidays.

For more information about the history center visit, 

Free to enjoy …

Goodhue County History Center

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Where: 1166 Oak St., Red Wing

Cost: Free the first Sunday of each month. Regular admission $5 adults, $2 ages 13-18, free for ages 12 and under

Splurge: Buy a piece of old-fashioned candy or pick up a book

More info: or 651-388-6024

Stacy Bengs-Silverberg

Stacy Bengs has been a photojournalist at the Red Wing Republican Eagle since 2010. She holds a bachelors degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota.

(651) 301-7880