Thursday, January 4, 2018

Kensington Rune Stone Visitors Center is Officially Open

The Grand Opening of the Kensington Rune Stone Visitors Center at the Ohman Farm, in Kensington, Minnesota, was held on Wednesday, January 3, 2018.  It was minus 1 degree on clear and sunny day and I made the two-hour trip up from the Twin Cities with John Freeburg, and our driver, Darwin Ohman, grandson of the discoverer of the Kensington Rune Stone.  Darwin and I have made this drive to the farmstead many times over the years for many lectures, various meetings and of course to perform different areas of research.  Today's visit was to celebrate a milestone in the history of the artifact by finally having a modern interpretive and visitor's center where the artifact was first discovered in the fall of 1898.  In my view, the Kensington Rune Stone is the single most important historical artifact ever discovered on this continent that for all intents and purposes was the beginning of the founding of what would become the Untied States of America. 

It was a cold (minus 1 degree) and clear day when the Grand Opening of the Kensington Rune Stone Visitors Center at the Ohman Farm was held on January 3, 2018.

The three of us arrived early as the Director of Douglas County Parks who was responsible for the project, Brad Bonk, greeted us at the door with a big smile.  Darwin and I had met with Brad multiple times over the past two years offering information about the history of the family, and research on the artifact, as the project moved forward.  The building of steel framing, concrete and wood was simple and elegant with the east room dedicated to the story of the stone, the inscription, and runes in general.  One thing that especially pleased me was to see thee Hooked X in the interpretive displays.  Some people wanted the Hooked X and some of the other  controversial symbols eliminated from the displays, but fortunately, Brad and other consultants chose to keep the runic displays true to the symbols found on the artifact.

Inside the interpretive display room myself, John Freeburg, and Darwin Ohman stand behind a replica of the Kensington Rune stone. 

Shortly before 2:00 p.m., a steady stream of local politicians and media trickled in and at 2: p.m. sharp, the brief ribbon-cutting ceremony was underway.  Within less than 10 minutes, the bright red ribbon was cut and everyone was back inside.  After downing a hot cup of coffee and an hour or so of glad-handing, it was time to make the two-hour trek back home.  On the ride back, the three of us talked about not just how impressed we were with the facility, but how it was still only one positive step in a much longer journey.  For me, the highlight of the entire day was seeing the smile on Darwin Ohman's face knowing that exoneration of his grandfather's reputation was inching closer to universal acceptance. 

Director of Douglas County Parks Brad Bonk, and other dignitaries, prepare to cut the red ribbon at the ceremony in front of the new Visitors Center.

Brad Bond and Andrea Dwyer with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce stand with ribbon cutting scissors in front of the new Visitors Center at the Ohman Farm, in Kensington, Minnesota.