Sidewalk chalk artist coming to Sugar Beet Days!

Allison Olstad posing with one of her chalk drawings
Allison Olstad, the “Chalk Gnome,” with one of her creations

The Renville Museum is excited to host sidewalk chalk artist Allison Olstad of Jordan, MN for a special event as part of Sugar Beet Days. On Friday June 10 starting at 11:00 a.m. the public is invited and encouraged to watch her transform the Bryant Avenue sidewalk near the museum into a fanciful work of art. 

Allison is a sophomore at Jordan High School, and has been chalking for just over five years. She discovered the medium at chalk camp in the summer of 2017, and under the guidance of award-winning muralist Shawn McCann, developed her skills through community festivals and workshops.  She has rightfully earned her whimsical Facebook moniker of Chalk Gnome.

Allison loves the excitement of watching a piece come together and learning something new while spending time with her “chalk family.” She enjoys sharing chalk art with kids at camps and community events like Sugar Beet Days.

When Allison isn’t chalking she can be found at the lake, playing sports, being with family and friends, and listening to or making music.

The Renville Museum is delighted to provide an opportunity for the community to enjoy her skills and talents, and grateful to the Renville Lions Club for sponsoring Allison’s involvement in Sugar Beet Days.

(In the event of rain this event will be rescheduled at a later date. Check the Renville Museum Facebook page for updates)


Museum Makeover: The Beginning

In late summer 2019, we began the process of giving the museum a makeover. The place to start was literally a place to start: a space we could use as a base of operations.

Enter the kitchen.

The kitchen space filled with objects and equipment.
The Kitchen: Before

In the museum’s early years, this space actually was used as a kitchen for events like the ice cream social. Over the years it became a sort of hybrid display and storage space, with kitchen-related collection items mixing in with extra chairs and tables. Since it is also the only closed room within the museum, it made sense to give the space purpose again.

To clear some space, we first moved the tables and chairs out. We then cleared out the two large built-in cupboards before starting on the actual collection items. Some pieces were moved to be displayed elsewhere, some we chose to keep in the space we now called the kitchen/office or “k/office,” and the rest we moved to our storage room (the organization of which is for a different post, but every item we stored is now easily located for future displays).

Then it was time for a deep clean, a fresh coat of (donated) paint, and the return of a few work tables.

The former kitchen, now a more functional space, with cleared shelves and tables and new gray walls.
The “K/Office”: After

Of course, it only looked like this for about two minutes. Currently, it looks something like this:

The kitchen/office space, now filled with boxes and piles of things.
The K/Office: Reality

This is where we have been sorting, cleaning, indexing, storing, and creating new displays for the rest of the museum. The chaos in the K/Office translates to a refreshed and reorganized Renville Museum that we can’t wait to share.

Speaking of sharing, we’re now on Facebook and Instagram!


Closed to visitors, open to donations

A sign from a more optimistic time – fall 2019

We had hoped to reopen the Museum for Sugar Beet Days 2020 this June, but that is not happening – the reopening, or Sugar Beet Days. At this point, we can’t say for sure when we will be open to the public as we are operating with an abundance of caution during the Covid-19 pandemic. What we can say is that we are using this time to do some much-needed renovations and updates to our space and we look forward to sharing the changes with you whenever that becomes possible.

If you are using this time to do some housecleaning, please keep the Museum in mind if you find anything you think might be worth donating! We are currently in search of Sugar Beet Days memorabilia and photos, and we are always looking for objects of interest to the history of Renville. We can’t accept everything — at this time, we aren’t accepting any dishes, newspapers, or clothing including military uniforms — but we welcome all questions. Please contact or call Rachel at 320.979.9185 to find out if we have a place for your donation and to arrange a drop-off time.

We wish the Renville community the best!

Renville Museum building
News, Volunteers

Renville Museum in 2019: Old and Improving

The Renville Museum is getting an overhaul beginning in 2019!

The Museum was first brought to life and nurtured by a passionate group of volunteers with an interest in preserving and sharing local history. Early events and exhibits were carefully planned and well-attended, and fundraising events (like the “Old Tyme Vaudeville” shows of the early 1980s) were big successes. The volunteers in the Historic Renville Preservation Commission managed some big updates to the Museum, including the restoration of the old City Jail and the addition of a basement under the old schoolhouse.

But that was all more than 30 years ago.

The Museum has now outlived many of those original volunteers. A few dedicated souls have kept it going, but it needs some TLC – and a new generation of volunteers – to really take on a new life.

The improvement process has started, as many great improvement projects do: by making a huge mess! The collection has grown so much over the years, it is literally bursting out of our storage space. The first step is to answer two questions: what do we have? And how can we best preserve it?

As we go through the entire collection (not overwhelming at all), we’re also planning new displays, creating a website (welcome!), painting walls, creating a digital catalog, researching and writing, and much, much more. If you have an interest in helping, whether it’s for a day, a month, a year, or for eternity, we need you. And we have a job for you, no matter your skill or interest.

Currently, the Museum is closed for the winter months. There’s still plenty going on behind the scenes, and work in the building will pick up in the spring. We will re-open for Sugar Beet Days in June 2020.

Interested in volunteering? Please contact