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Wildlife art museum planned

Published (2/22/2008)
By Mike Cook
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Minnesota is home to nearly one-third of federal duck stamp competition winners, but they and other wildlife artists do not have a permanent place to showcase their work.

Sponsored by Rep. Connie Ruth (R-Owatonna), HF2891 seeks to change that.

Held over Feb. 18 by the House Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance Division for possible inclusion in its bonding recommendations, the bill seeks $1.25 million to help construct the Minnesota Wildlife Art Museum. “This would help create a permanent institution to exhibit, interpret and celebrate this art,” Ruth said.

The plans call for an addition of the Gainey Conference Center, which is owned by the University of St. Thomas, to house the museum. The university now delivers a master’s program at the Owatonna center.

Last year, the university became aware that several of Minnesota’s top wildlife artists got their start as commercial artists at Jostens, Inc. in Owatonna, said Doug Hennes, the university’s vice president for university and government relations.

“Jostens was run for several decades by Daniel C. Gainey, who left his estate to St. Thomas after his death in 1979,” he said.

The university would cover half the construction costs and would pay for operating costs.

Hennes said the $2.5 million museum would be a partnership between Steele County and the university. It would include temporary and permanent wildlife exhibits, as well as lectures, demonstrations and workshops directed at school-age children.

A companion bill SF2664, sponsored by Sen. Dick Day (R-Owatonna), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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