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A work in progress

The Lyon County Museum has a new home, but getting ready for visitors will take a lot more work than just moving

September 8, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - All the boxes have been moved. But there's still a lot that needs to be done to build a permanent home for the Lyon County Museum. The work is starting almost from the ground up, with extensive renovations throughout the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building on Lyon Street, said museum director Jennifer Andries.

The renovations are going to take more time than museum supporters estimated at first, but Andries said this week that some new and exciting displays will come with the wait.

"We want to do a good job," she said. "We want to have something that will make people say, 'Oh!' when they come visit the museum."

Article Photos

Photo by Deb Gau
Silver tape and a few Xs mark the spots planned for doors and windows to an exhibit at the Lyon County Museum’s new home in Marshall. Museum supporters like Bev Kenyon have been working to help with renovation of the former Marshall-Lyon County Library building this summer.

The museum's collection was moved into the former library building earlier this summer. Since then, Andries and volunteer workers have been busy organizing and cataloging items, as well as helping to plan for exhibits. At the same time, the building's old carpets, ceilings and lights have been torn out for replacement.

Andries said the museum is renovating one floor of the building at a time, starting with the main floor. On Friday, only a few larger pieces of furniture and shelving were being stored in what would become display areas. The walls had been repainted a light gold color, the old carpet pulled up and ceiling tiles removed. The old library circulation desk was still in its place near the main doors.

"We're going to have the circulation desk as the welcome center. It's in really good shape," Andries said.

Andries and members of the Lyon County Historical Society have been planning some permanent exhibits for the main floor. A Veterans Honor Wall and military exhibits will take up the rear wall, she said. The room that used to hold part of the library's nonfiction and periodicals collections will also become exhibit space, Andries and museum curator Bev Kenyon said. They pointed out rectangles of tape on a dividing wall, marking the planned entrance to an exhibit called the Heritage Room.

Kenyon said the exhibit will be built to resemble a Victorian front porch, parlor and dining room. The room will use leaded windows, doors, and fixtures salvaged from historic Marshall homes, including the houses that used to stand along Redwood Street.

"We have a whole lot of things from the three houses," Kenyon said, including chandeliers, an ornately carved fireplace mantel, and a buffet. Portraits and information on some of Marshall's prominent citizens from history could also be displayed there.

The most difficult part of renovations on the main floor, Andries said, will be installing the 1950s soda fountain. There's a lot of paperwork to be done, and state requirements the museum will have to meet in order to serve food in the building - even if it's just coffee or ice cream treats. There will also be some plumbing work to put in a sink for the "kitchen" area.

The building's lower level will eventually have displays like the museum's log cabin and prairie schooner.

"It'll be the more primitive, the early years (of settlement)," Kenyon said.

But for now, both the lower level and the building's top floor are being used for temporary storage. While the museum now has enough space to display more of its collection, the items still need to be sorted and the museum's computer catalog updated. In one workroom, Andries has started categorizing museum items on heavy-duty shelves. Vintage spelling primers, memorabilia from local businesses and school yearbooks from several towns all have their own labeled spots on the shelves.

Andries said sorting through the museum artifacts gives her lots of ideas for future exhibits, but it also shows where there are gaps in the collection, like for school memorabilia.

"We have a lot of things from Marshall, but it would be nice to have more from other towns like Minneota and Cottonwood," she said. Donations of items from the public could help fill the gaps.

Contributions from the public will be crucial in finishing the renovations, Andries said. Updating the building and putting together new exhibits will be expensive. Volunteer workers are also needed to keep the work moving.

"We can get opened quicker if there are more people to help," Kenyon said.

Andries said people interested in contributing to the museum, volunteering, or even sharing ideas can call 507-537-6580, e-mail, or write to the Lyon County Historical Society at 301 West Lyon Street in Marshall.



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