Our exhibits explore the extraordinary and everyday stories of Olmsted County and Rochester: the founding of Mayo Clinic, pioneers homesteading the prairie, family farmers feeding the state and nation, and entrepreneurs building businesses. 

Featured Exhibit:

The Onward March of Suffrage

The nation ratified the Nineteenth Amendment 100 years ago, granting women the right to vote. The Onward March of Suffrage explores the path Olmsted County women took to fight for their rights. Meet many of the local women, hear their stories, and see how this struggle defined their lives.

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Olmsted County Exhibit:

The history of Olmsted County spans thousands of years. Travel through this history with the stories and artifacts in the Olmsted County Exhibit.  Journey from the prehistoric period, with its cephalopods and woolly mammoth, to the present, learning about the native peoples, businesses, early settlers, and the founding of Mayo Clinic along the way. The Olmsted County Exhibit tells the story of our community’s land and people. 

Community Connections: African Americans in Rochester:

What makes a community?  Learn how the African American community in Rochester developed in the 1960s and 1970s.  See how companies, social groups, churches, and sports helped create a community.

Rochester's Pride: The Beginning of Pridefest:

In 1998, the first Pride festival took place in Rochester led by Gay/Lesbian Community Services (GLCS). The exhibit features the early history of GLCS, Pridefest, and the current LGBTQ+ groups in the area.  

This exhibit is sponsored by First Alliance Credit Union.

Kalmar Township:

The building blocks for democracy can be linked to our townships in Olmsted County. Discover the unique story of both Kalmar and Byron along with how the railroad formed both the township and city.

North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters:

As Rochester grew from a small frontier town into a city, many new structures needed to be built. The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters had an important part in many of the noteworthy buildings in Rochester and is still heavily involved in constructing the city's future.

Upstairs Sitting Room of Mayowood:

Located in the south wing on the second floor of Mayowood is a sitting room/dressing room loved by both Edith and Alice Mayo. Come discover this room’s role in the daily life at Mayowood.

We Are Water:

Water has always been an important part of human history. See how water impacted the lives of early settlers in Olmsted County, influencing where they lived and how they survived. Learn how the City of Rochester would later manipulate the rivers to allow the city to grow.

Origins of Olmsted County: The Land for Enterprise:

Learn how Olmsted County enticed settlers and what benefits the county offered. The exhibit includes a hands-on section where you can handle items early settlers brought with them when moving to Minnesota. Along with Olmsted County, learn about the numerous treaties that shaped the state of Minnesota.

I WANT YOU: Olmsted County Service During World War II:

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, America joined the Allies in World War II to combat Germany, Japan, and Italy. Countless men either enlisted or were drafted into the armed forces. The exhibit features the stories of men and women from Olmsted County who served their country.

Traveling Exhibits:

The History Center schedules a range of traveling exhibits. Each one will be exhibited for several weeks to several months at a time. Check back to see any upcoming traveling exhibits.