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Grand opening, grand celebration!

Grand opening, grand celebration!

- By Kent Brick

Nov. 2 will mark the 125th anniversary of statehood for North Dakota. It was on that day in 1889 that President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamation formally admitting North Dakota to the Union.
    Now, 125 years later, North Dakotans will use Nov. 2 to celebrate this statehood anniversary. The focal point of the celebration will be the dedication and grand opening of the newly expanded North Dakota Heritage Center, on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck.
    The $52 million Heritage Center expansion – built over the last four years – adds 97,000 square feet of display and museum space to the center.
    In 2009, the N.D. Legislature approved $40 million to fund the expansion of the North Dakota Heritage Center, fi rst built in 1981. The authorization of these funds was contingent upon the State Historical Society of North Dakota raising $12 million from private sources. Groundbreaking for the expansion took place Nov. 23, 2010, after half of this amount was secured.

Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives of North Dakota are one of the major sources of private support for the Heritage Center expansion. The cooperatives provided $1.3 million in early contributions for the expansion project.
    Joining forces for the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives financial support are: Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck; Great River Energy, Maple Grove, Minn.; Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks; the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC), Mandan; and National Information Solutions Cooperative, Mandan.
    In recognition of this support, the cooperatives are sponsoring the new Governors Gallery which has been established as a major display space in the HeritageCenter expansion.


This 5,000-square-foot gallery will house temporary/traveling exhibits of note from around the nation and
the world.
    The first exhibit in the Governors Gallery will be “Power of the People.” This gallery exhibit will present the history of rural electrifi cation in North Dakota through vivid displays, video productions and hands-on exercises.
    “Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have been such an integral part of the story we call ‘North Dakota,’ ” says Dennis Hill, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager. “We’re so proud to partner with the State Historical Society and its foundation, our congressional delegation, our legislative leaders and our elected statewide office holders to keep writing chapter after chapter of who the electric cooperatives are and why we matter to the state’s continuing growth.”
    Other galleries featured in the Heritage Center expansion include:
• The Adaptation Gallery will contain more than 500 million years of North Dakota history illustrating the earliest life forms up to the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago.
• The Innovation Gallery will cover more than 10,000 years of the earliest human history in what is now North Dakota.
• The Inspiration Gallery is the current Main Gallery, and will present the last 150 years of the state’s history.
    Other primary features of Heritage Center expansion include:
• The Northern Lights Atrium, a beacon that will welcome all visitors, will be the new eastern entrance;
• The North Dakota Corridor of History, a passageway through the building, will connect all visitor experiences;
• The Great Plains Theater, a 60-seat theater, will offer an orientation film and all sorts of programming opportunities;
• The Missouri River Event Center, along with existing meeting rooms, will provide facilities needed for large meetings and conventions.

“Power of the People” – the story of North Dakota Touchstone Energy Cooperatives – will be ready to view in the Governors Gallery.

Kent Brick is editor of North Dakota Living. He can be reached at