museum visitors

Visitors enter Koochiching County Museums.

From Ojibwe music and fur trader songs to the Falls High School marching band, the significance of music in Koochiching County will be celebrated and remembered Sept. 21 at Koochiching County Museum.

The museum will join more than 1,500 museums and cultural institutions across the country offering free admission to the public on that Saturday as a part of an annual Museum Day event.

Museum Day is a celebration of curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine. Participating museums across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. The Museum Day ticket can be downloaded online and provides free admission for two people on Sept. 21.

This year marks the 13th year of the Musuem Day program, and 2019 will be the third year that Koochiching County Museums is participating.

“The year of music” is the theme of this year’s event. Participating museums are able to interpret this theme however they choose.

“Instead of just talking about a specific year, we are going to talk about the importance of music in Koochiching County from the very beginning,” said Ashley LaVigne of Koochiching County Museums, who is planning the event.

Music has unified people and cultures throughout history, “everybody loves music,” she explained.

She plans to display this unification and the importance of music to Koochiching County residents, from early homesteaders to today.

“We’re going to just really talk about the importance of music for the people here, especially the early homesteaders — whether it was for the lumberjacks, churchgoers or just to break up the monotony on a Sunday,” LaVigne said.

LaVigne explained the significance of music in everyday life to the people of International Falls: “International Falls had city bands, and they were always present for welcoming people into town on trains, for the Fourth of July or for other major celebrations — the city band showed up.”

Just for Museum Day, there will be special displays, including, victrolas and a player piano, the first known recording of an Ojibwe chief singing, and a Falls High School majorette uniform.

Darcy Sullivan and Sean Bahr will perform live music in the museum during the event.

Along with free admission, new exhibits and music, the museum will host a “sketch crawl” led by local pointillism artist Jeff Johnston, who will invite participants to draw their favorite artifacts from around the museum.

“(Visitors) can come into the museum and find a piece they want to do a sketch of — you don’t have to have artistic talent, this is just something creative for the community,” LaVigne said.

The finished sketches will hang in the entryway of the museum, she said.

For first-time visitors to Koochiching County Museums, the event is a great way to see all the museums have to offer.

For regular visitors to the museum, LaVigne said there will be brand new artifacts and photographs from the archives on display during the event.

“We’re going to be pulling things out we’ve never had on exhibit before,” she said.

LaVigne said of the visitors to last year’s event, “There were a lot of local people who hadn’t been (to the museum) in 25 years.”

The event is suitable for all ages, and children who attend will receive a coloring book bag.

For anyone out of town for the weekend, the Smithsonian’s Museum Day is a national event, and there are a number of participating museums in the Twin Cities area.

Official Museum Day tickets are available for download at

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