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Minnesota Disasters exhibit now open

Dan Karalus, executive director of the Beltrami County History Center, discusses the new display with volunteer Sue Bruns on Wednesday as the center prepares to open a new exhibit, Minnesota Disasters, which is open now through the end of July.

BEMIDJI -- Visitors are invited to come peruse a new exhibit at the Beltrami County History Center. Minnesota Disasters is available here through the end of July.

The exhibit features information on numerous disasters, from man-made catastrophes such as the 35W bridge collapse to those created by Mother Nature, like the 1888 Children's Blizzard.

Featuring first-person accounts, still photography and videos, the exhibit recounts extraordinary stories of heroism and survival while also acknowledging those who tragically lost their lives.

The Beltrami County History Center was able to bring the traveling exhibit here after applying for it through the Minnesota History Center. Funding from the exhibit was made possible from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Legacy amendment.

"The impetus for getting the exhibit was really that the board and I believe that we need to get different exhibits in here from time to time," said Dan Karalus, executive director of the History Center. "This is a great way to do that."

This temporary exhibit adds to the offerings already available at the History Center, including Trails Through Time, also in place through July, which details the history of Beltrami County.

The Minnesota Disasters exhibit features a series of large panels that cover disasters based on type, such as wildfires, tornadoes, floods and more. There also are additional informational placards and books available for further information.

A video console features five short videos on different disasters. In one, meteorologist Paul Douglas discusses the conditions that led to hundreds of deaths during the 1888 Children's Blizzard.

Other events that are highlighted throughout the exhibit include the the Twin Cities tornadoes in May 1965, the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard and the the grasshopper plague from 1873-1877. Additional panels highlight the 1991 Halloween Blizzard and the 2010 tornado that hit Albert Lea.

Additionally, the History Center is adding its own information and photographs from local disasters, including fires that burned down valuable community buildings -- such as the 1965 fire at Central School -- and storms that disrupted daily life.

Karalus said the History Center plans to also display a bulletin board of some type where visitors and the public can share comments of their experiences from the disasters.

Other materials were retrieved from the local History Center's archives, including old firefighting gear. In a unique partnership, from noon to 4 p.m. June 21, representatives from the Bemidji Fire Department will be on hand, with its engine, to discuss fire safety and visit with the public.

If you go...

What: Minnesota Disasters exhibit

When: noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays through July 31

Where: Beltrami County History Center

Details: The History Center is free to members of the Beltrami County Historical Society. General admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 per adult for groups of five or more, and $1 for children aged 6-12.