Directors and staff of the Smith-Zimmerman Heritage Museum met with community members on Monday to talk about opportunities for the future.
The museum building itself was the topic of conversation. Concerns about size, visibility, heating and cooling, and repairs have the board looking at alternative sites for upcoming years.
By the most important measures, the Smith-Zimmerman Museum has been a success: preservation, education and a financial model that works. Volunteers and paid staff have done a remarkable job over the last half-century.
Lake County artifacts had accumulated in the Lake County Courthouse until George Smith and Lillie Zimmerman donated money for a new building. Sen. Karl E. Mundt arranged to have it located on the campus of General Beadle State Teachers College (now Dakota State University), and the state of South Dakota contributed construction funds as well.
The building opened in 1961 and it seemed plenty big at the time. But another six decades of accumulation have caused it to be outsized.
Those who met on Monday had a number of good ideas for future space, including different locations in Lake County. The discussion seemed to have a sense of optimism for the possibilities.
We don't yet know what the board will decide, but we have confidence that they are approaching this decision with the same enthusiasm and focus that the same board had in the late 1950s: to preserve Lake County history for generations to come.
-- Jon M. Hunter