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Finding Minnesota: Ed's Museum In Wykoff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Most people would list their valuables as jewelry, heirlooms and even electronics. Rarely would that list include outdated magazines, expired food or even dead insects.

Those are the exact items you'll find in Ed's Museum in Wykoff, Minn. Ed Krueger was one of the town's most prominent citizens until his death in 1989. He wanted to leave a legacy, and he did so with all his belongings.

The main street of small town Minnesota often gives visitors a glimpse of its history. Wykoff is no different. Businesses that line the streets have supported the town of nearly 450 people for decades.

"It used to be a very vibrant farm town," said Carolyn Baker Meyer, a member of the Wykoff Historical Society.

Ed's Museum
(credit: CBS)

One building at the end of the main drag truly represents the past. Ed's Museum isn't so much a reflection of the town, but of one man who lived there.

"That's kind of what he wanted, he wanted his stuff saved and displayed," Baker Meyer said.

The story goes that Krueger kept nearly everything during the more than 50 years he owned the local general store. Museum tour guide Shirl Boelter remembers the store so stuffed with belongings that customers couldn't walk freely around the store.

"There was a lot of stuff and kind of a path to get where you're going," Boelter said.

When Krueger died in 1989, at the age of 91, he willed the store and its contents to the town with one last requirement.

"He wanted it to become a museum," Baker Meyer said.

The building is filled with antiques from the 1940s. Shelves are filled with canned goods and other products with the Jack Sprat label. Pictures of old movie stars and celebrities line the walls.  Krueger's old receipts and inventory logs are also on display.

"I enjoy looking at it and brings you back to a different time," Boelter said.

Along with the traditional items showcasing a glimpse of the past, Ed's Museum also has a certain randomness in its displays.

"They did keep what they felt was the essence of Ed," Baker Meyer said.

Gallstones at Ed's Museum
(credit: CBS)

The preservation of his life even took a literal turn.  One display case holds his teeth and gallstones that he saved over the years.

"He thought they were important to save, I guess," Baker Meyer said.

His collection is so large that it touches every room of the home including the basement.  It's there, on a small shelf in the back corner, that visitors will see a small, saran wrapped box.  Inside is Krueger's cat, Sammy, that died decades ago.

"He was 15 years old when he died in 1986," Baker Meyer said.

Rarely do one man's personal belonging get national attention, but each year Ed's Museum brings in people from around the country who are drawn by both the combination of his story and the nostalgia of a time gone by.

"I know we had someone and I believe he was from Kentucky.  He planned his whole trip so that he could be here," Boelter said.

It is a different way to see a museum. At Ed's, the value is in the eye of the beholder.

"It was one man who lived his life here and wanted to remember it and he wanted everyone to remember what he had seen," Baker Meyer said.

Ed's Museum is located in downtown Wykoff on 100 South Gold Street. It's open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend and during the week by appointment at (507) 352-4205.

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