Iron Ore Mining and Iron Range Life, 1920-1950s

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Minnesota Museum of Mining
Start Date
March 2010
End Date
August 2010
Activity Type
Counties Affected
St. Louis
St. Louis
Project Overview

A 1’ scale model of the gallery, developed a visitor traffic flow plan, developed specs for new exhibit walls/structures, researched & developed major exhibit themes & topic areas and developed preliminary activities for these topic areas. The exhibit design allows free movement within the gallery, allowing visitors to enter from either the south or the north door. Visitors move about freely with no dead-ends or backtracking required, which accommodates large groups of school children without diminishing their experience. The exhibit structures will feature period life-size facades 12-14 feet tall, adding realism. Beginning at the south entrance, the school structure is three times larger than the current schoolhouse. Moving north are three commercial storefront-orientated structures with partial sidewalls and no back walls, allowing for a natural flow from one exhibit topic area to the next. Against the north wall is a large structure representing “home” on the range.


  1. Intro to the exhibit unit -  “Iron Ore Mining and Iron Range Life, 1920s - 1950s”, a slightly angled waist-high faux taconite rock allowing guests to see into the gallery/street scene.
  2. Schools on the Range will focus on the growth of schools across the range beginning with the one room school houses built in the 1920s. Sub-topics include sports, arts, academics and the contributions and support of the mining companies.
  3. Health and Education features Doc Archibald “Moonlight” Graham’s work in public school health, and the importance of health and education to the iron ore miners. This area shares common space with Schools on the Range and expands the theme of education.
  4. Veda Ponikvar’s Free Press focuses on Veda’s important connection to communication, the community and politics. Featured will be the Free Press print shop equipment, first person accounts, stories and photographs. Other business equipment from the collection will be displayed and interpreted in support of this area.
  5. People, Places & Work on the Range - three units: Unit A focuses on small businesses and the evolution of appliances between 1920 and the 1950s. Objects from the collection will be interpreted and linked to the growth of the Range. Unit B focuses on the people, their towns and communities, their daily life, their work and jobs, including those who did not directly work in the mining industry, but provided support and infrastructure. The area will also cover homes, housewives and children. Unit C currently the blacksmith shop, shoemaker shop and broom shop will be developed in Phase II.

The development of a storyline will engage future visitors and draw them into the exhibits. The organizing of the artifacts around this series of coherent stories will help the museum in making future decisions about new acquisitions. The movement toward hands-on learning activities within the exhibit building will unify the museum experience.

Project Details
To develop and research the overall storyline of the main exhibit hall depicting life on the Iron Range, 1920-1950
Legal Citation / Subdivision
LAWS of MINNESOTA for 2009 Ch. 172, Art. 1, Subd. 4 (b), Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants
Appropriation Language

(b) Statewide Historic and Cultural Grants. (i) $2,250,000 in 2010 and $4,500,000 in 2011 are appropriated for history programs and projects operated or conducted by or through local, county, regional or other historical or cultural organizations; or for activities to preserve significant historic and cultural resources. Funds are to be distributed through a competitive grants process. The Minnesota Historical Society shall administer these funds using established grants mechanisms, and with assistance from the advisory committee created herein.

2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Street Address
304 N. 60th Ave. E
Zip Code
Administered By
Administered by

345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155