Driftless Gems

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. — Rudyard Kipling

By Destinee K. Udelhoven

Anyone who has moved homes, cleaned out the garage, or thinned the trappings of an overstuffed closet can tell you that regardless of price, some things have more value than others. That pair of muddy shoes that haven’t seen the light of day in years? Donate. The unread newspaper, dated 11 months ago? Recycle. The ancient hammer head with a broken handle? Out. It’s obvious.

Or is it? What if those muddy shoes were worn by your great-grandmother when she married the love of her life? If those shoes, and a portrait of her wearing them on that day so long ago, were all you had of her legacy? What if that newspaper edition held your first child’s birth announcement? That broken hammer was your late father’s tool of choice when the two of you spent a summer building the treehouse you loved as a child? 

We cannot know, at first glance, the stories behind the items we encounter. We cannot always understand the value of a memory. When we consider how true that is for each of us, then multiply that truth by our family, community and region, we can begin to grasp the incredible task that falls on the shoulders of institutions like the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society.

MHAHS, via its Driftless Historium history campus, saves and shares the rich heritage and ever-evolving narratives of Dane County›s bountiful Driftless Area. From an impressively comprehensive collection and archives available to researchers and genealogists (ask for a behind-the-scenes peek!), to a diverse calendar of events and award-winning exhibits … from an emerging artist gallery to an eclectic gift shop, MHAHS serves the community and beyond, all with just two trained staff and a small army of dedicated volunteers.

The Driftless Historium is a destination for local families with deep roots, newcomers eager to learn about the region, and history buffs interested in inventive strategies for exploring our past. The Permanent Gallery utilizes carefully selected artifacts, documents and photographs to immerse visitors in a 2,000-square-foot chronological look at «Life and Change at the Edge of the Driftless,» while a Special Exhibits Gallery showcases rotating displays on a variety of topics. The Community Room (available to rent) provides a flexible space for public programs, receptions and other gatherings.  

MHAHS brings history alive for all ages, many of whom are hungry for the stories behind the artifacts, to look upon the portrait of the family who lived up the road 100 years ago, and to learn more about the people who made this area what we know today … a true Driftless gem. See yourself in their stories; connect with your neighbors near and far.

Destinee K. Udelhoven is the executive director of the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society. Visit the Driftless Historium in downtown Mount Horeb at 100 South 2nd St. For more information, call (608) 437-6486 or visit www.mthorebhistory.org. Driftless Gems celebrates the nonprofit arts, culture, humanities and nature organizations that make our region unique. To showcase other Driftless Gems, email info@voiceoftherivervalley.com.