New museum displays Native artifacts
May 5, 2014
Headdresses, tepee covers, moccasins and more are now displayed at Vande Bogart Library at Montana State University-Northern.
The display of artifacts was celebrated Friday as the Louis and Antoinette Hagener Museum of the Northern Montana Plains Indian had its grand opening.
Northern Chancellor James Limbaugh began the opening ceremonies in front of a crowd of government officials, Northern staff and students and community members.
State Sen. Greg Jergeson, Montana state representatives Clarena Brockie and Kris Hansen, Aaniiih Nakoda College President Carole Falcon-Chandler, Chair of Montana University Board of Regents Paul Tuss and Denise Juneau, the Montana superintendent of public instruction, attended the ceremony to welcome the new addition to Northern.
Also present were four members of the Hagener family, including Antoinette "Toni" Hagener.
"It's such a pleasure for me to stand at the entrance and to see the younger folks come out and celebrate with us an event that has really been 50 years in the making," James Limbaugh said. " ... It has been a wonderful experience and we have learned so much about the generosity of the community."
Limbaugh said he and his wife decided to create the museum after perusing the artifacts previously stored in the Hagener Science Center.
"We saw in the cabinets of Hagener the faint shadows and outlines of what we thought were some pretty interesting artifacts," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh said the museum would not have been possible without the dedication of Toni Hagener and her late husband Louis.
Hagener took the podium to tell the story of the artifacts and to speak to the community of the meaning of them to her.
"Thank you," Hagener said. "I am overwhelmed in many facets of my being."
Hagener said she and her husband came to Havre in 1949 to work at Northern Montana College, which eventually became MSU-Northern. Years after, her husband became aware of a collection of artifacts that was given to Northern, briefly displayed and then stored in an unsealed cardboard box in a basement.
From the cardboard box, to the Hagener building and now the the museum in Vande Bogart Library, the Hageners have been pushing for the proper conservation and respect to be given to the artifacts.
Trish Limbaugh played a huge part in the creation of the museum, Hagener said.
"I would emphasize that Trish Limbaugh not only helped with the moving of these precious items but also with the cleaning and the repair of the items in the collection," Hagener said.
Trish Limbaugh has worked on the museum's collection since the idea of giving it a new home was first set forward, from personally designing the stands on which the textiles sit to rebeading the tiny beads that had fallen from their place in intricate works on leather.
"I probably spent 400 hours so far," Limbaugh said in an interview after the museum was revealed.
She said she spent a long time cataloguing the collection along with properly taking care of them before they could be displayed in the museum.
"Some items, like the beaded saddle, could not be moved until they were repaired," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh said every bead had to be cleaned and each piece properly maintained before they could do anything else with them.
Some of the work was meticulous, but she said she felt "very connected to the collection, to the people who have invested in it emotionally and what it represented for our area."
Hagener said less than a fourth of the entire collection is on display at the museum now, and Limbaugh said the displays will be rotated as more items are repaired and properly conserved.
The new location has the proper environment to conserve the pieces of history stored within the room, including ultraviolet lighting and humidity control. The pieces were stored in displays under harsh lighting and undesirable temperatures and humidity, or simply lying flat in boxes in the Hagener building previously.
After the unveiling of the museum, President of Sweetgrass Society Ron Kling blessed the entrance of the museum, as well as the artifacts within.