The mission of the Carnegie Cultural Center is to establish a vital presence of the Arts, History and Cultural Awareness for the enlightenment, enjoyment and benefit of all Chickasaw County residents and visitors.
Fall 2012 Newsletter
If you are at all like me, you are relieved to see the end of the campaigning, ads and media onslaught that accompany a national election. Not that I’m bragging about it, but you certainly have not had to suffer through a heap of promotional materials from the Carnegie Cultural Center this year. Generally, I aim to get out one newsletter in June and one to accompany our budget drive flyer in November. Obviously (to me at least), June got past me this year, so I’ll try to recap the year for you and note some of what we are looking forward to in 2013.
One of the most exciting developments this year was the arrival of two new exhibitors to the Agriculture/ Transportation area on the lower level. The first, a fine selection of hand-made, wooden models of agricultural equipment crafted by Bassett native, the late Garland Van Kleek, joined our Ag Exhibit in late spring.
We are almost finished installing the second exhibit, a truly impressive array of model agricultural and road building equipment created by Martin Jones of Charles City. Everyone enjoyed Virgil Schwickerath’s collection of model tractors, on display in the lower level for several years. When they were removed, we thought about redesigning the space and expanding the theme to include changing power systems and the roads development in Chickasaw County. As with any exhibit, finding the artifacts to represent the story was the challenge.
Luckily for us, Martin and his wife, Cleo, had visited the Carnegie in the past (quite a while ago, actually) and left information about Martin’s work. His minutely detailed, large scale equipment is crafted from plans (not kits) and made of wood, making it a perfect fit with all our Permanent Exhibits. A series of maps illustrating the County’s progress from covered wagon and stage coach trails to gravel and hard surfaced roads and finally a modern system of primary and secondary roads expands the exhibit’s interpretation.
We can truthfully boast that the quality of the hand-made models ...Ag & Transportation; Circuses; Railroads... permanently displayed at the Carnegie Cultural Center rivals that of any others in the Midwest. And that’s something you
can be proud of (and brag about) as well!
This Old Library
One of the motivations in establishing the Cultural Center was to preserve New Hampton’s 100+ year old Carnegie Free Public Library building for continued public service and community enhancement. Since occupying the building in the fall of 1994, a long list of improvements have been carried out...some to suit its new purpose and some as necessary maintenance. Last spring, a window jamb that had slid off its seating started letting rain water into the lower level. Next summer, landscaping will be removed and the soil around the northwest corner of the building will be excavated so that the window casing and foundation can be repaired. It’s a bit of an undertaking, but after 100+ years, not surprising. It’s rather like a hip or knee replacement, I’d say...except this good old building will be going strong long after me and any artificial joints I may have implanted have ceased to be of use!
Temporary Exhibits 2012...
Our T.E. agenda encompassed a wide range of interests. The year started with “Three Women and Mother Nature” featuring the nature photography of three women with ties to this area...Deb Fedeler of Hawkeye, Cresco native, Laura Ryan and New Hampton native, Erika Billerbeck. In sharing their visions, they expanded our own and fostered an appreciation of what we all too often miss or take for granted in our surroundings.
We then switched gears with “John Deere Here”. We didn’t realize it when we set this exhibit, but 2012 marked the 75th
anniversary of the John Deere Waterloo Works. Our focus was on the influence of the Waterloo Works on the local area...thus “John Deere Here
”. That influence was both economic and social. Displays in the exhibit focused not only on the equipment used by area farmers, it related the history of local JD dealerships and acknowledged the many, many area residents who, over the years, commuted to the Waterloo Works for employment. The paychecks they brought back bought homes, supported out schools and community infra-structure and paid for purchases at local businesses. John Deere’s presence in Chickasaw County was and still is palpable.
On display during the summer months, “Traces in Time” featured historic Indian artifacts from the collections of Jack Ruzicka of Marble Rock and Frank Peters of New Hampton as well as other area collectors. Archaeological artifacts and discoveries continue to be a fascination for many in this area.
Another type of local treasure was featured in the fall exhibit, “All in the Family”, an exposition of art work by the Doug and Marian Sowers family of Fredericksburg. While their eight children have grown and now live in other towns and cities, Doug and Marian’s creative influence is evident in the production of outstanding art work by their extended family. This well-attended exhibit has not only been a point of pride for the Sowers family, but a testimony to the fact that quality is part and parcel of life in Chickasaw County.
The 2012 Christmas exhibit, “Salutations of the Season”, will open just after Thanksgiving and will feature Christmas cards and post-cards through the years. Be sure to take it in for a real boost to your holiday spirit!
We don’t have the dates nailed down yet, but things to see, enjoy, marvel at, and learn with in 2013 will include:
The Carvings of Martin Jones...Yes, this guy does more than make models! His carvings in wood are uniquely different from his models. Let’s put it this way...when I first walked in his door, I looked around and repeatedly said, “Oh my “gosh
”!! You will, too.
Hats, Hats, Hats!...Now there’s a piece of our culture that has changed over the years! Whether designed for practicality or fancy, hats say a lot about the times in which they were produced as well as those who wore them. Then of course, there are those “Red Hat Ladies”...
This is one of those exhibits that we borrow items from lots of people. Do you have one...an old one, a unique one, one with a story... you can loan us for about 10 weeks? How about hat pins or boxes? Have one created by Mae Schmitt
or Mattie Gebel
? This definitely going to be fun!
A while back, I met a fellow who told me that his granddaughter was surprised to learn that one didn’t need to have a computer to play a game of solitaire...that is could actually be played with a deck of cards, of all things! Then there those odd things known as phonograph records, and rotary dial phones! Just to make all of us older folks seem even older, the Carnegie will be sponsoring an exhibit about clocks and time pieces...the kind that have 12 numbers and two hands on them. In addition to their non-digital faces, clocks speak volumes about where and when they were used. Just think about the difference between a stately, wood encased mantle piece and a yellow plastic teapot shaped kitchen model...you get the picture. AGAIN
...do you have a piece that would be of interest that you are willing to loan?
In the fall, we will pay tribute to the local Rotary Club in honor of their 75th
anniversary with a commemorative exhibit of sorts. The year will wind down with our annual holiday exhibit featuring Christmas collectibles from a variety of Christmas collectors!
Ask Any of Our Volunteer Managers...
...and they will be able tell you a story of a visitor (usually from out of town) who has used our archives to fill in a piece of family history. When Dolly Whiteman moved to Kensington Place last summer, she donated her pile of scrapbooks to the Cultural Center. When they are not busy, volunteer managers are helping index the books so that the names and information they contain can be easily located.
In addition to scrapbooks, we actively seek photos and/or just about any informational materials pertinent to the Chickasaw County area. If you are reluctant to donate original photos (completely understandable), we’d appreciate the opportunity to copy them. .....and then when I win the Powerball, we’ll add
on an archives room and..................................
Soon to be Seen
Our webmaster, Karl Fliris, (I pray for his health everyday!) is in the midst of updating and redesigning our website....quite cool! Check out the present version or soon to be new version at www.carnegieculturalcenter.org