Pioneer Museum Of McKenzie County To Move Exhibits To The McKenzie County Heritage Park & North Dakota Oil Museum

The story of McKenzie County's rich history, from pre-historic to modern day oil exploration and agriculture, can soon be explored under one roof.

With the opening of the McKenzie County Heritage Park and North Dakota Oil Museum's new indoor space in 2021, plans for the Heritage Park to acquire the displays and exhibits from the Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County inside the Long X Visitor Center have been in the works. Now the time has come to make the transition.

"Both entities have a commitment to honor the history of our community," said Jan Dodge, who has served as the director of the Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County since its grand-opening in 2005. "The community has expanded and changed before our eyes over the past decade and the opportunity to collaborate is coming at the right time to honor that change and open the door to new opportunities and experiences for the community in both the Visitor Center and Heritage Park spaces. It just makes sense."

Starting mid-November, Dodge and Sandy Rieker, Heritage Park director, will work with staff, volunteers and the City of Watford City to safely pack up, label and move display items and antiques from the Pioneer Museum located at 100 2nd Ave, SW just a few blocks west to their new home at the Heritage Park at 904 2nd Ave. SW.

Among the items being transferred are historic artifacts, photographs and documents from pioneering days and the development of the cattle and farming industries and petroleum industry displays, including a to-scale replica of a drilling and work-over rig.

The Long X Visitor Center will remain a functioning visitor center and the home to the 60-million-year-old tree stump located in its lobby where staff will continue to welcome guests from all over the world. According to Dodge, in the nearly 19 years the Visitor Center has been open they have welcomed nearly 30,000 visitors from across the globe stopping to learn about the history and attractions of the community.

The gift shop, along with the ice cream, will also remain; featuring North Dakota made products, apparel and souvenirs with plans for featuring more local makers. The Pioneer Museum will continue management of the gift shop for the time being. In addition, the Long X Arts Foundation is making plans to lease the basement of the Visitor Center as a space to hold art classes. The lower-level space will also serve as an art gallery, which will feature rotating local and North Dakota artists, an addition that will continue celebrating the uniqueness of the region, but also help drive more traffic to the Visitor Center throughout the year.

"The impact we've seen as a welcome center reinforces the importance that this building remain the point of entry for guests," said Dodge. "With the addition of the new walking path between the two properties, we look forward to pointing guests in the direction of the Heritage Park, which is now just a stroll away."

"We are very excited and proud to exhibit the collection of the hard-working men and women of McKenzie County that the Pioneer Museum has worked so hard at collecting over the years," said Rieker. "We know it's been a labor of love for many and we're looking forward to serving and educating the community, county, state, and even the world as we honor the rich heritage of the people of McKenzie County."

For more information or questions, contact the Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County at 701-444-2990.


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