New artifacts and papers from a 115-year-old downtown Minneapolis institution, the former flagship Dayton’s store on Nicollet Avenue built by George Draper Dayton in 1902, are now part of the Minnesota Historical Society collections.
When Macy’s announced the closure of its downtown Minneapolis location in January 2017, the company invited MNHS staff to go through the store for potential donations documenting the department store’s more than 100-year history. MNHS collections focus particularly on the history of Dayton’s, a Minnesota company, and the Macy’s visit was an opportunity for curators to carefully add to already-extensive documentation of the company and its ownership changes over the years.
MNHS chose several acquisitions related to 8th Floor Auditorium holiday shows, including artist renderings, floor plans, posters and more. Staff also had the challenge of sorting through rooms full of animatronic figures and deciding which ones best represented the 50-year-plus holiday tradition of 8th Floor shows at Dayton’s, Marshall Field’s and Macy’s. Ultimately, figures of Cinderella, Pinocchio and Harry Potter’s Severus Snape were chosen.
“We decided to limit our selections to figures in good condition, representing major characters from separate stories, and those that would hold cross-generational or other appeal. Cinderella and Pinocchio fit the bill,” says associate curator Sondra Reierson. “And Professor Snape, from the Harry Potter holiday show in 2000, gave us a unique local connection to an international cultural phenomenon.”
Staff also found opportunities to add collections items from the department store’s food department with menus, chocolate boxes and even a sign from the Oak Grill restaurant on the 12th floor.
“Macy’s is delighted to donate Dayton’s archival items to MNHS to honor the legacy and heritage of the downtown store,” says Andrea Schwartz, vice president of media relations, North Central and South Regions, for Macy’s. “We are committed to ensuring that much of the Dayton’s heritage is preserved, and MNHS is the perfect fit to house and display these artifacts.”
Additionally, the Macy’s Southdale store in Edina now features the Dayton-Hudson archival display that once was located by the Skyroom in the downtown Minneapolis store.
New MNHS acquisitions are immediately available for media to view in person. Digitization is currently in process, and images of new artifacts will be available on the MNHS website by October 2017. Digitization of MNHS collections for online access is made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.
About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.
The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.