For immigration, agriculture, commerce, public service and other areas of the state’s early development, horses played an invaluable role. To honor and appreciate this role, the State Historical Society has created “The Horse in North Dakota,” a new exhibit in the Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives Governors Gallery of the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck.
The new, 5,000-square-foot exhibit highlights the horse’s evolution and domestication, work and military uses, and Native American cultural significance, as well as the horse’s role in sports, art and play in North Dakota, in particular.
“This unique exhibit has been entirely developed by State Historical Society staff for the people of North Dakota and all of our visitors,” says Kim Jondahl, communications and education director with the State Historical Society. “We’re excited about the opportunity to showcase special horse-related objects donated by the public that are rarely on exhibit.”
Some artifacts included in “The Horse in North Dakota” are being exhibited at the State Museum for the first time. A few of the many artifacts include an early 1900s horse-drawn fire engine used in Petersburg; a beaded pipe bag (circa 1883) depicting horse exploits that once belonged to Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull; a saddle used by Madame de Morès in Medora; horse toys; and contemporary artwork by Bismarck artist Paul Noot.
“The Horse in North Dakota” is free and open to the public at the State Museum, and is expected to remain on display through early 2020.
The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Governors Gallery in the State Museum was space developed when the museum’s significant recent expansion project was undertaken. Touchstone Energy Cooperatives of North Dakota were significant supporters of the Heritage Center and State Museum expansion project, completed in 2014.
Early statehood horse-related items on display include: Top left: A wagon and sleigh. Top right: A beaded pipe bag which belonged to Sitting Bull (middle item on display). Below: A horse-drawn fire engine from Petersburg.