Dalton Dahl of Albert Lea sat in the office of the Redwood County Museum on a late Friday morning just half an hour before opening the historic site for the day and talked about what has become a passion for him.
Dahl truly appreciates history, and he has been spending as much time as he can learning all about the significant stories that make up what is the Redwood area in an effort to help visitors better understand what happened and why it happened in this part of Minnesota.
With one semester left before graduating with a history degree from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Dahl is spending the summer serving as the curator for the museum that is operated by the Redwood County Historical Society and is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 p.m.
“I was an education major,” said Dahl, who added he soon discovered that the classroom environment did not really suit his interest, although being able to teach still did.
“This is the kind of setting I like,” said Dahl, adding as the curator he not only has the chance to interact with people but he can tell the stories behind the artifacts that are on display at the museum.
No, admitted Dahl, he did not know much of the history of the Redwood area before beginning his new role, adding he seems to recall talking briefly about the U.S.-Dakota conflict when he was in school. For him that just means doing a lot of research when he can.
Speaking of research, Dahl said he is learning a lot more about World War I, as the Redwood County Museum is currently hosting the West Central Minnesota Historical Association Traveling World War I exhibit. It will continue to be on display through Aug. 2. The exhibit covers a variety of topics related to World War I including: heeding the call, letters home, the home front, soldier’s life and returning home.
In addition, Dahl has selected a number of WWI artifacts from the museum itself to enhance the display.
The local museum also offers opportunities for groups to come and visit, and recently students from Wabasso stopped by the museum. As part of that visit, the students had the chance to interact with Alice Otto, who taught in a one-room school house.
Otto said she started teaching when she was 19 years old after attending Normal School in Lamberton.
Dahl said during museum hours he is available to help guide visitors through the museum, or they can do self-guided tours. Ask questions, he said.
For Dahl being at the Redwood County Museum as the curator, a role which he started in May, is a great opportunity.
“Every day I learn something new,” he said.
Dahl said he enjoys the chance to learn new things and to help put certain events in their cultural context. For example, he has been looking through old newspapers to see how Redwood County people reacted to the things that were happening during different important historical milestones.
Dahl said he gained his appreciation for history from his grandparents who would often share stories from their past with him. They would also take him to museums.
For Dahl, one of the eras he enjoys studying is the 1960s, adding he appreciates the events of that time from the Cold War to the civil rights movement, as well as the counterculture that was so much a part of that decade.
In the local museum, Dahl said he has enjoyed the Native American room, adding he really has also appreciated the traveling World War I exhibit.
Dahl encourages everyone to come and visit the museum, adding he is glad he has been given the chance to serve the area.
“This is what I want to do,” said Dahl.
To learn more about the museum visit its Web site at redwoodcountyhistoricalsociety.com, or contact Dahl at (507) 641-3329.