WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 10, 2012, 10:31 PM

Unique exhibit opens at Otter Tail County Museum

Fergus Falls, MN (WDAY TV) - A new exhibit featured at the Otter Tail County Museum is allowing people to take a step back in time.

A new exhibit featured at the Otter Tail County Museum is allowing people to take a step back in time. It's called “The State Welcomes You,” and provides the general history of the State Hospital from the start of construction until the day it closed.

The State Hospital weighs heavy in the history of Fergus Falls. Otter Tail Historical Society Executive Director Chris Schuelke wrote the script for this exhibit. He knows how important this hospital was to the community and wanted to allow people to relive the memories.

Chris Schuelke – Museum Director: “We want people to become aware of the history of the state hospital, how unique this institution is and hopefully we will be able to raise some awareness as to its future re-use.”

There are so many artifacts and features to this exhibit that truly tell the story of the hospital, starting with this Electric Shock Therapy Machine.

Chris Schuelke: “It is almost unimaginable for people to have been subjected to that kind of therapy.”

The hundreds of pictures you see, showcasing the stories and lives of nurses and the journal entries of patients were hand-picked by the museum’s curator Kathy Evavold.

Kathy Evavold – Museum Curator: “We have about over 500 photographs taken at the State Hospital in our collection so we used about roughly half.”

Aside from all the pictures and treatment tools the exhibit also includes artifacts made by actual patients.

Chris Schuelke: “And one of the more interesting things is a clipper ship, like the kind that was brought over by immigrants when the immigrants came over on, and it is really detailed piece.”

The state hospital opened its doors in 1890 and closed fully in 2007. Now with this new exhibit, the doors are once again opened and "The State Welcomes You," is now inviting you in.

The exhibit is now open and runs through November 30th. Beginning the 17th, there will be hospital staff guest speakers to tell their stories at the Museum on Fridays at 10 AM.