Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum, Dunn County Historical Society

"I live for today. I dream for tomorrow
and I learn from yesterday."

Fulton Holtby

The Dunn County Historical Society has begun  construction of The Fulton and Edna Holtby Museum of Science and Technology, adjacent to the Rassbach Heritage Museum in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The Holtby Museum will feature 15,000 square feet of exhibit space and working shops focusing on applied technology. The museum will feature Mr. Holtby's extensive shop and a collection of models designed and manufactured in it.

"We're extremely pleased to partner with Mr. Holtby on this museum," said board president Roy Ostenso. "The facility and collection will add a new dimension to fulfilling the Society's mission and provides yet another educational and tourism resource for the community and region. It will allow us to expand our educational and community programming."

Pictured left to right, are Frank Kennett, DCHS curator; Fulton Holtby (seated),  engineering educator, innovator and consultant; Roy Ostenso, DCHS Board President, and Glenn Gehring, SHA Chairman and DCHS Director.

Fulton Holtby, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota for 41 years, pursued 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 collaborated with a faculty colleague to build the first aircraft flight recorder (black box). He also 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 has been actively involved with UW-Stout's College of Technology, Engineering and Management for more than two decades. A vocal supporter of Stout's technical programs, he has generously funded more than 430 scholarships for engineering students at UW-Stout since 1995. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the university in 2001.

The Holtby Museum project is a result of cooperation between the Stout University Foundation and the Stout Historical Association, a sub-group of the Dunn County Historical Society. Sue Pittman of the Stout Foundation was instrumental in getting the groups together to move the project forward.

The 15,000 square foot museum will be a multipurpose facility, providing a permanent "working" home for Holtby's machine, metal and woodworking shop and corresponding tools. The shops will be made available for use by qualified individuals.

A collection of models built by Mr. Holtby will be displayed and interpreted in 7,500 square feet of exhibit space. The models include various working steam and marine engines. One model was constructed for a courtroom exhibit for American interests in the $2 billion lawsuit surrounding the 1979 Amoco Cadiz oil spill on the coast of France.

"This is a unique and significant collection," notes Frank Kennett, the Society's curator. "The equipment in these shops will be representative of that found in area and state manufacturing facilities. Little is being done elsewhere to preserve this type of setting. It will be of interest to a wide variety of audiences."

The facility will also accommodate educational activities for museum visitors. The Society will develop educational and historical programming appropriate for area school and adult groups.

A 3,000 sq. ft. corridor leading from the existing Heritage Museum to the new museum will also provide additional historical exhibit space. Plans are underway to interpret the story of manufacturing in Dunn County and Wisconsin and the Society will seek to partner with area manufacturers to tell the story of more recent industrial activity in the county.

An opening date for the Holtby Museum has not been set.



    The Holtby Museum is located in Wakanda Park in North Menomonie. From Highway 25 (exit #41 south from I-94) turn east on Pine Avenue and proceed into the park past Wakanda Elementary School and the Water Park. Turn left on Game Park Drive, then left on Wakanda Street.

General Information

    The Holtby Museum
    1820 Wakanda Street
    Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751
    (715) 232-8685

    All correspondence to PO Box 437

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Dunn County Historical Society
PO Box 437, Menomonie, WI   USA  54751
(715) 232-8685