North Dakota Heritage comes alive this summer

BISMARCK There are still things to see at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck this summer even though much of the building is still being renovated.

Claudia Berg, expansion and new initiatives coordinator, said two galleries, including the Adaptation Gallery: Geologic Time and the Innovation Gallery: Early Peoples are both open, as is a greatly expanded museum store.

“As you go into the geologic time gallery, the dinosaur is kind of the introduction piece,” said Claudia Berg.

Dinosaur tracks lead visitors into the gallery, which features life-sized casts of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops engaged in battle. There are also fossils of plants and animals that lived in woodlands, swamps and ponds.

The gallery also features Dakota the Dinosaur, a duck-billed hadosaurus that was found in North Dakota in the Marmarth area. It is one of six of that species of dinosaur that was found in the world with skin and Berg said it is a very important specimen.

The gallery also features a mastodon skeleton.

The early peoples gallery will cover the first 13,000 years of human history in North Dakota. Native Americans moved to the area when the first glacier melted.

“When the pyramids were at their peak in Egypt and gunpowder was used in China, there was a civilization in North Dakota,” said Berg.

The gallery covers the history of inhabitants up until the fur trade and the first contact with Europeans.

Later this summer, a Treehouse exhibit will open and there will also be a homemade car on display.

On November 2, the Inspiration Gallery and the Governor’s Gallery will open on Nov. 2 in time for the 125th anniversary of statehood.

The Inspiration gallery, currently under construction, will cover the last 160 years of North Dakota history.

The governor’s gallery will be a temporary and traveling exhibits gallery. One of the first exhibit to premier, in cooperation with Touchstone Energy, will be about the history of rural electrification in North Dakota.

“When we traveled the state, talking to the public, that was one topic that kept repeating itself,” said Berg. “Especially in rural areas (electrification) had a huge impact.”

The exhibit will also cover the important history of cooperatives in North Dakota.

Later this summer, the James River Cafe will also open at the museum. The museum store is open, has nearly doubled in size and is carrying twice as many works by North Dakota artisans and artists, said Berg.

Renovation has been ongoing for the past couple of years. When it is complete, there will be 39,000 square feet of gallery space, nearly twice the size of the old exhibit. The museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.