The Hagener collection of Indian artifacts, housed in the Hagener Science Center at Montana State University-Northern for more than four decades, are being moved to a more spacious location at the Vande Bogart Library.
The library is more fitted to house the delicate artifacts.
“It’ll be outside the conference room, so people can really enjoy our collection,” said Library Director Vicki Gist. “It’ll be an area you can properly display the Indian artifacts.”
The Hagener collection, which contains Native American textiles, needs a controlled amount of humidity and light to properly preserve the items. At its current location in the science center it is receiving neither, though the location is an improvement over its former home in boxes.
The collection has been in the Hagener Science Center since 1968. Until the construction of the science center, it was housed in Pershing Hall starting in 1951.
In 1969, Native American artifacts donated to the college in the 1930s were moved to the science center.
Vicki Gist, the library director at MSU-N, and Valerie Hickman, the archivist and library services manager, said moving the collection to the library would be beneficial in many ways.
“The visibility isn’t great at the science center,” Gist said. “We’ve been talking about doing this for quite a number of years.”
“It’s too valuable a collection to leave over there,” Hickman said. “We’re open more hours than the Hagener building. It’ll be a better place.”
Patricia Limbaugh, Chancellor James Limbaugh’s wife, is one of the driving forces behind the museum. She has written a grant and is currently pursuing funding for the project, according to Hickman.
Donations to the museum will be accepted at any time, but this year, the We Love Northern Ball will give attendees the choice of donating to scholarships or the Vande Bogart Library Museum.
Hickman and Gist said the museum should not cost the the university much, as most of the money needed to complete the project will be raised from funding such as the We Love Northern Ball, or Limbaugh’s grant.
The Aaniiih Nakoda College donated archival storage boxes to protect the artifacts. This will save the university around $8,000 in supplies needed to create the museum.
The science center and the collection are named after the late, long-time professor and curator of many of the artifacts, the late Lou Hagener.
Toni Hagener, Lou’s wife, said that Lou rescued the Indian collection from boxes.
“My husband rescued them and when the science center was built, he asked for cabinets to display them,” Hagener said. “When the building was completed, the collection was put on display and it was used to talk about the various items; how important they were and what they were used for.”
John Paul Schmidt
Lou Hagener collected many fossils, notable rocks and other items in his time at the university. This display box shows his collection of fossils that he gave to the university.
Hagener said that the college used to include these displays in the tours they would give to people visiting the campus.
“It was never efficient to display everything,” Hagener said. “Some of (the items) were too big. We took care of them the best we could. The climate was not the best, but we did our best.”
Since she and her husband began taking care of these artifacts decades ago, the technology behind preserving items such as the ones in the collection have changed, Hagener said.
The new location at the library will be climate-controlled and will have the appropriate lighting to extend the life of these Indian artifacts.
“(My husband and I) were aware the Indian collection was immensely valuable to the culture of our area.” Hagener said. “It sounds like they’re recognizing the tremendous value it has — ethnically and historically.”