The History Center has a wide range of artifacts.  While a good amount are on display in the exhibit hall, this represents just the tip of the iceberg.  The variety of artifacts reflects the different personalities, companies, and ethnic groups that were instrumental in the creation of Olmsted County. We have artifacts from the Mayo Family, IBM, and early pioneer families.  When these artifacts are combined with the History Center’s research library, new stories can be discovered.

The artifacts fall into several major collections. Listed below are the major collections of the History Center.

Textile Collection

The collection features clothing spanning over 150 years, including pioneer clothes and Mayo family formal wear. Thousands of textile pieces, from quilts to Odd Fellows regalia to shoes, are available for research and study.

historical textile

historical textile


Decorative Arts Collection

The History Center has a large decorative arts collection, encompassing glass, ceramics, paintings, and other forms of art.  The Mayo Family collected decorative arts from all over the world and Mayowood houses many of these artifacts.  Below is an oil painting by Charles C. Rudkin, donated in 1974. The pair of Venetian glass candle sticks were donated by Parker Sanders in 1983. They are dated circa 1890’s, most likely are Salviati Glass and depict Pegasuses. (English plural)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                     DSCN2737




Medical Collection

Olmsted County is most famous for the Mayo Clinic. Because health care is so important to the story of Olmsted County, the History Center has an extensive medical collection. Some medical tools are actually from the Mayo Family doctors. Real medical tools, some more surprising than others, are in the collection. There are also examples of medical quackery as well.

Medical  Collection

Military Collection

Minnesota became a state only a few years before the Civil War. The History Center possesses a variety of military artifacts, from uniforms to medals to swords. Artifacts ranging from the Civil War and Dakota Conflict to the Gulf War are included in the collection.

Military Collection

Native American Collection

Before the settlement of Olmsted County by European pioneers, the area that became Olmsted County provided hunting grounds for Native Americans.  The History Center also has Native American artifacts collected by Olmsted County residents.  The Native American collection includes Southwestern pottery and Paleo-Indian tools.*

Native  American Collection

*NB: Native American artifacts have been properly vetted for NAGPRA, with several (1, 2) having been repatriated.


If you are interested in working with these artifacts, you can Volunteer. The Volunteer Coordinator will work with you in finding an area where you can be most helpful to the History Center.


If you are researching Olmsted County or are researching specific artifacts (military, textiles, medical, agricultural, etc.), contact the Curator of Collections directly. For research, the History Center’s Research Library has valuable information and librarians ready to assist your research needs.