In response to "Clay County historical society making changes at Hjemkomst Center" published June 6
I am a concerned person for the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County. On May 10, 2021, you decided to have the HCSCC lose 2,000 square feet of exhibit and storage space. I became aware of this situation only because I was planning a destination wedding to Moorhead since I now reside in Rapid City, S.D., when I inquired about renting space in the Hjemkomst Center for my wedding reception. I have been denied now twice for using the space. The second time I was not given a reason other than the Hjemkomst Center is no longer renting out to wedding receptions.
I found my calling to be an archivist during my internship with HCSCC in 2015 and when I was an employee in 2016. I recently received my master's in library and information science with a concentration in archival studies and got a job in Deadwood, S.D. I would not be where I am without my experience at the HCSCC.
As a museum professional, I am greatly concerned about Moorhead’s lack of support for the HCSCC. For a nonprofit such as HCSCC, its relationship to its city is vital for it to flourish. The HCSCC has amazing collections that represent the life and history of Moorhead. The HCSCC has materials from our first hook and ladder company and early school records, just to name a few. The city of Moorhead should be supporting the growth of the museum, not shrinkage. Museums can bring in lots of money to the community that they serve. People want to see history first hand. Severely cutting the HCSCC’s exhibit space deters people from visiting and spending their money in Moorhead.
I do not understand why you would give away space already being used, that was created for HCSCC, to someone else, who is struggling through a temporary situation. The HCSCC used that space to create its many award-winning exhibits. It is wrong that no economic impact or community output was used to make this decision. The HCSCC brings in people from all over the country to see its collections, the Stave Church, Hjemkomst Ship, and their festivals. By diminishing this space you are diminishing the number of people and vendors who can come in and celebrate Moorhead, its history, and its culture. Moorhead does so much to support the arts in the city but does very little to support its own history.
I believe that this choice that was made and voted on by the City Council does not actually support its strategic plan objective of “assess city-owned recreation and event spaces from an operational and programming perspective.” What you have decided on really limits the growth of the HCSCC, and for the public to have a reasonably-priced rental space for weddings.
Stenson is an archivist at Deadwood History Inc. in Rapid City, S.D.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.