There will be mixed feelings among many about the announced retirement of Nina Archabal, long-time director of the Minnesota Historical Society. People may have disagreements about the legacy she leaves in the institution she led. The good news is what Archabal said in the interview reported in the Pioneer Press this morning. Archabal stated that Fort Snelling would be a challenge for whoever replaces her as director of the Society: “The new director will have to ‘figure out how to knit Fort Snelling back together; it’s like Humpty Dumpty, it’s falling apart. That’s probably a 10-year undertaking.'”
Unfortunately too many people, including some in the Minnesota Historical Society, view Fort Snelling as a stone and mortar problem. What is really falling apart is the historical consensus that led to the fort’s reconstruction in the 1960s. The problems with Fort Snelling are conceptual and philosophical ones. Spending more money on construction cannot solve those problems.
That is the real challenge for the new director of the Minnesota Historical Society.