History and art at the Carver County Historical Museum


Recently I visited the town of Waconia, west of the Cities, and couldn’t resist the pull of the Carver County Historical Museum. I’m a sucker for these county museums; you never know what you might find. Some are wonderfully curated and artfully presented, others are more like flea markets. CCHS, I’m happy to say, falls in the former category. It’s not a large museum, but it has a number of interesting exhibits, one focused on generations of veterans (fitting, since it’s in the same building as the Carver County VA), another on tools, another on the growing immigrant population in the county:

There’s even a small but interesting exhibit about the difficulties faced by what were previously small towns in rural areas, but are now increasingly growing and becoming more suburban-like, which can generate some contentious feelings. Surprisingly, according to the exhibit, it’s the newcomers who complain most about the growth.

Growth issues aside, I like to look at the stuff. Look at this hand-carved secretary! How gorgeous is that? And how much time must it have taken?

This, my friends, is a hair wreath. Yes–made of human hair. Apparently that was a craft that was all the rage back in the day. 

The CCHS also has visiting exhibitions, and the one on display when I was there (I think it’s there until early February) was–be still, my craft-loving heart–a display of Russian artworks and handmade lace.

The exhibit was called “Beauty Will Save the World: From the Russian North to the North Star.” It includes this painting by Sergeiy Telenkov, titled The Young Lace Maker.

Fittingly, it’s surrounded by plenty of lace, including this lovely and intricate piece:

There are other Russian art forms, too, including hand-painted matroshka dolls and the beautiful little boxes.

I’m a sucker for those little boxes, like the one in the center. Years ago, DH and I visited Russia (it was still the USSR then) and bought some and had dreams of collecting many more. They’re tiny marvels of detail.

As are the birch bark carvings.

It makes me sort of stupidly happy to wander into a place like the CCHS, not sure what I’ll find, and see such a well-done collection, obviously carefully curated and cared for. History is alive and well, and in my mind, that’s a good thing.

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