The Rice County Historical Society was founded in 1926 with the mission of “discovery, preservation and dissemination of the knowledge of the history of Rice County and the State of Minnesota.” This mission has guided us over the years and continues to be our focus for everything we do. Education and outreach is the best way to share the rich history of Rice County and we do that through History Camp, one-room school and log cabin experiences for youth, school tours, public programs and workshops, among other activities.
In addition to our outreach and public programs, the Rice County Museum of History houses historical displays, a genealogical research center, and an exhibit area. The Museum exhibits include Bishop Whipple, Grace McKinstry, Sellner Manufacturing, Bruce Smith and Native Americans. The museum also displays Main Street U.S.A., which is a timeline of businesses found in many small towns of Southern Minnesota. The RCHS also operates the Heritage and Harvest Halls that contain displays of farm and industrial items. In addition there are three historic pioneer buildings, which were moved to the museum site from around the county. The buildings are an 1850s log cabin, the Pleasant Valley School organized in 1857, and The Holy Innocents Episcopal Church built in 1869.
Feedback and evaluation is so important to show us how we are doing, but perhaps the best testimonial happened one day in the middle of May. Around noon two young girls came into the museum with their Grandfather. The Grandfather explained that it was an early release day from school and these two first-graders had been to the museum on Monday with their class field trip but they felt rushed through the tour and so asked him if they could come back to the museum on Wednesday to look around some more. You know you’re doing something right, when, given time off from school, two 6 year olds think the best way to spend the time is going back to the museum.