Collections and Photographs
The Historical Society has accumulated its collection of early pioneer artifacts through donations received from descendants of founding families. The Society continues to collect examples of significant memorabilia from the 19th and 20th centuries, depicting the growth and transformation of the Bloomington community.
The museum contains a number of books, documents, newspapers and has over 11,000 photos, including the significant Norling photo collection.
The Irwin Norling photo collection consists of about 10,000 images, made by Norling from 1953 to the 1980's. The collection is considered to be a very significant and chronicles the life of the Bloomington community. The best aspect of this collection, aside from its images, is the tremendous index and caption information provided by Mr. Norling, who was a meticulous record keeper. Every negative was assigned a number and described in his index. Negatives are the most original items.
During dry years of the 1960s, dugout canoes and canoe remnants were regularly discovered In the Minnesota River Valley and along the rivers and lakes in Southern Minnesota. This Bloomington canoe, circa 1600, was discovered on the George Hopkins river bluff property in 1967. After being authenticated by the Minnesota Historical Society, it was preserved and exhibited by the Bloomington Historical Society at the Bloomington Old Town Hall.