For those of you who have not seen this announcement yet I'm posting it here. Minitex staff visited the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm, MN fall 2007. They had such a rich and unique collection in their library and archives. You can view the pictures by visiting our Flickr site. We hope that this is only a temporary closing. You can stay up-to-date by visiting the Mn Discovery Center website.
CHISHOLM - The Ironworld Development Corporation Board of Directors today announced that Minnesota Discovery Center (formerly Ironworld), a 660-acre museum, entertainment venue, research library and park in Chisholm, MN, will temporarily be closed to the public, effective Friday, November 20, 2009, at 5 p.m.
"We would like to thank our employees for their patience and understanding as we determine what the future holds for this institution," said Minnesota Discovery Center CEO, Mike Andrews.
Iron Range Resources created the nonprofit organization and negotiated a Management Agreement in 2007 for its operations. They supported the nonprofit through an endowment of $10 million and a transitional subsidy that is to be phased out over a five-year period. With the world recession, the endowment declined to $5.9 million this spring, resulting in substantially lowered funding levels.
The new name, Minnesota Discovery Center, provided a broader platform in the effort to re-invigorate the facility and give it national importance. This strategy worked. Revitalized programming within budget yielded a 15% increase in attendance figures despite cold weather, five months of highway construction, and an economy where tourism spending in northeastern Minnesota saw double digit declines.
"The financing model developed two years ago, combined with the world economic situation, just doesn't work", states CEO Mike Andrews. "Our overhead costs, not fundable by grants or sponsorships, are considerably higher than our declining subsidy and endowment interest. Although we experienced an increase in visitor attendance, it is not enough to make that up difference in a limited market."
The temporary layoffs affect 47 dedicated employees who have been passionate about the success of the facility.
"The board is currently reviewing all options for continuing operations," said Rich Puhek, IDC Board Chair. "We owe it to our dedicated staff and to the public that has been so supportive of the Minnesota Discovery Center to continue to make every effort to succeed."
The IDC Board remains optimistic about the future of the facility.
Minnesota Discovery Center opened in 1977 as the Iron Range Interpretive Center with 34 exhibits and a nominal admission charge. In 1979, the Hall of Geology was added, followed by the 1980 opening of the Research Center library and archives. In 1986, after an 18-month shutdown, the facility re-opened as with a railroad, amphitheater, new admissions building and "Festival Park."