U’s sesquicentennial exhibit to open

Benjamin Sandell

Did you ever see a hairball the size of a grapefruit, a manually peddled old-fashioned dentist chair or the world’s first pacemaker?
If not, you might want to checkout the University’s Sesquicentennial State Fair exhibit, which opens Thursday.
University officials expect the $65,000 exhibit will attract 100,000 visitors.
Ian Dudley, the exhibit curator and Bell Museum exhibit designer, said a number of University researchers and staff members have volunteered their time over the past two years working on the project.
They have taken great care with even the smallest details. Historical pictures arranged on the back wall of the exhibit, alone, took more than a week to design.
Researchers have collected scads of artifacts and 120 photographs for the exhibit. Toja Okoh, an exhibit researcher, was charged with finding rare and surprising information about the University’s history.
University inventions on display include a space shuttle parachute, a retractable seat belt, jumping spy robots, the black box used on airplanes and Vietnam K-rations.
Other artifacts featured are the little brown jug, the yearly trophy for the winning football team between Michigan and Minnesota; nursing and cadet uniforms from 1909; a 1930s football helmet signed by the team; and the first laptop computer distributed in 1993 at the Crookston campus.
A timeline from 1851 to 2000 highlights many interesting facts along the way.
It shows admissions figures every 10 years. In 1851, only 20 students attended the University.
By visiting the exhibit, University trivia buffs will also learn the school was established seven years before Minnesota achieved statehood, women have been admitted from the beginning and student demonstrations prompted the creation of the African American Studies Department in 1969.
“I think doing the exhibit has enkindled a school spirit,” said Dudley. “It has made me very proud and I have learned some incredible history that I never knew before.”
The fair exhibit will be housed at the University of Minnesota building at 1670 Dan Patch Ave.
A stage outside will host a number of speakers and demonstrations, including Raptor Center experts and Radio-K. A Gophers ticket booth and a merchandise store will also be in the building.
After the State Fair, the exhibit will be taken to the University campuses in Crookston, Duluth and Morris. The final stop for the traveling exhibit will be at the Capitol in St. Paul.
For more information call (612) 624-6868.