BLISSFIELD, Mich. — A collection of about 6,000 farm toys and artifacts from around the world is to be the centerpiece of an agricultural history museum to open in Blissfield once money is raised to build a 23,000 square-foot facility, organizers say.
“Hopefully, older retired farmers will volunteer [at the museum] with beautiful knowledge they have, conveying that knowledge to their grandchildren,” said Friedrich St. Florian, the project designer.
“The older farmers can look at a cloud formation and they can tell you what the weather will be like the next day. You will be amazed how often they are right.”
Mr. St. Florian, architect of the World War II Museum in Washington, talked about his initial concepts and vision for the Blissfield project with Melissa Growden, the project spokesman, before speaking at a news conference Thursday at the Hathaway House in Blissfield.
The Blissfield event was hosted by the board of directors of Tri-County Historical Museum Inc., a nonprofit organization that says its mission is “to preserve the tools and the stories of agriculture of the fertile Midwest and to be an educational resource for all ages.”
Ms. Growden said the Agricultural Awareness and Preservation Museum would “preserve the agricultural history of our community and the surrounding areas, ... educate [visitors], and create a place that all ages will enjoy.”
Mr. St. Florian said the collection — including about 400 pedal toy tractors — would be surrounded by exhibits to inform visitors about the history and development of agriculture, particularly in the Midwest.
The 6,000-piece collection was donated to the planned museum’s board by a couple from Michigan who chose to remain anonymous, Ms. Growden said. There are toy tractors, toy combines, and horse-drawn implements in addition to the pedal tractors.
The surrounding exhibits are to include a timeline of the evolution of agriculture from the prehistoric time of hunters and food collectors and an exhibit of the evolution of agricultural implements and technologies for the last 2,000 years, Mr. St. Florian said.
There also will be a “hall of honor,” to recognize area farm families who have been “on the land for 101 years or more, on the same homestead,” he said. Finally, classrooms are planned for volunteer docents to teach about crops in season.
Ms. Growden said the board picked Blissfield as the location for the museum in November, after Mr. St. Florian in October visited two sites, one in Blissfield and the other in Adrian.
Blissfield was selected because of the community support, and because the area is known for sugar beet production, vegetable canning, and field crops such as wheat, corn, and soybeans.
The board is negotiating a purchase of 35 acres with the Home Canning Co. of Blissfield, according to Ms. Growden.
She said the board has raised about $100,000 in donations so far and would prefer to raise the rest of the projected nearly $10 million needed before it considers borrowing for the project which will take “several years” to materialize.