"I live for today. I dream for tomorrow
Menomonie has a new museum space. A substantial gift from the late Fulton Holtby, an inventor and teacher, helped the Dunn County Historical Society develop what is a new kind of museum in this area, a museum that combines area history, technology, and a hands-on makerspace in the same gallery.
Fulton's Workshop sits next door to the Rassbach Heritage Museum in Wakanda Park on Menomonie's north side. It opened for weekends starting in late December 2017. Admission will be included with a regular admission to the Rassbach Museum. Scout groups, homeschool groups and other such organizations are invited in now to help try out the museum and makers' space, said Melissa Kneeland, Holtby Museum educator.
Scout groups, homeschool groups and other such organizations are invited in now to help try out the museum and makers' space, said Melissa Kneeland, Holtby Museum educator.
Fulton Holtby, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota for 41 years, pursue precision model making both as a hobby and as an expert forensic engineer. An educator first and foremost, Holtby was highly-sought for his ability to teach complex technical concepts to judges and jurors as an expert witness.
Among his many other accomplishments, Holtby designed and fabricated heart valve replacements and special suture clamps for Dr. Christiaan Barnard's pioneering heart surgery. Approaching the age of 90 years, Holtby continued to be an innovator, perfecting a metal casting process that resulted in significant reduction in cost, weight and waste material.
Holtby was actively involved with UW-Stout's College of Technology, Engineering and Management for more than two decades. A vocal supporter of UW-Stout's technical programs, he funded some 500 scholarships for engineering students beginning in 1995. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the university in 2001.
The museum features a re-creation of Holtby's home shop with his original tools, as well as several models Holtby fabricated or assembled.
Holtby constructed one of them for a courtroom exhibit. In 1979, the oil tanker Amoco Cadiz foundered and split off the coast of France. This was the largest oil spill in history to that point, and resulted in a $2 billion lawsuit for its impact on fisheries and tourism.
Holtby investigated the cause of the accident, built a model of the pump room to show a prospective jury, and demonstrated his testimony to the parties involved. After hearing what his testimony would be, and seeing him demonstrate the spill through his model, Amoco settled out of court for $120 million.
One of the best features of the exhibit is a makerspace for visitors.
"We want to inspire people with the question, 'What can you make?'" said director Frank Smoot. "Throughout the gallery, we have examples of area inventions, and we have space for people to create their own inventions. We hope people will understand that people of all ages, walks of life and abilities have made, and can make, amazing things."
at the Rassbach Heritage Museum
1820 Wakanda Street
Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751
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