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Finding Minnesota: Ruth Klossner's Moo-seum

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota is home to the largest ball of twine, the biggest gingerbread house and the largest cow collection in the world.

Last summer, The Guinness Book of World Records certified Ruth Klossner's cow collection in Bernadotte, Minnesota, as the largest in the world.

The previous record was just over 3,000 items. Ruth's official count was 15,144, and it's grown since she took the title last July.

Drive past her single-story home and you'll notice her cows don't just blend in the landscape of rural Minnesota.

Signs stating Ruth's Moo-seum sit outside her home, along with several wooden cow figures, and that's just a preview of the collection inside her home.

"They kind of walk in and go, 'Oh, you do have a lot of cows don't you,'" Klossner said.

Look around her home and you'll see the bovine has a significant place in her life.

"I've just always loved cows, from the time I was a little girl on the farm, I've just always loved cows," Klossner said.

Ruth is a bit of a collector, and that's putting it mildly.

"Holy cow is a frequent expression I hear," Klossner said. "It's up to 16,336 pieces."

For 37 years, the herd has grown inside her home. A single porcelain figurine started the collection on the ledge of the staircase. One became two, two grew to six, and so on and so on.

The collection soon outgrew the staircase and moved to the basement.

"I try to push things closer together, but there's only so close you can push them," she said.

Cattle figurines, toys, salt and pepper shakers, clothing and water bottles, fill every inch of space downstairs and Klossner keeps adding to the collection.

"When they came upstairs, I think they took over the whole place," Klossner said.

She purchased most of the more than 16,000 cow-related items herself, but a quarter of her collection came from friends or as freebies from conventions and seminars.

Klossner said she doesn't have a preference for the breed of cow.

'My theory is, if it's bovine, it's fine," she said. "Dairy or beef."

Her collection includes stuffed animals, clothing, kitchen utensils, figurines, toys, and even the bathroom has a bovine influence.

"There are so many unusual pieces, you pick it up and say, 'I can't believe they made this into a cow," Klossner said.

It's difficult to imagine a time when this farm animal wasn't in Klossner's life.

"My mother died when I was senior in high school and my father stopped farming immediately and we sold the dairy herd," she said. "It was hard to do because cows were my life."

With college and her career came the realization the dairy farm was part of her past. Collecting was a way to keep cows in her life.

"It just grew and grew and grew until it mushroomed into a full blown collection" Klossner said. "Now, it's a little more than a full blown collection."

While visitors may see cramped quarters, Klossner sees no problem with a crowded home.

"Everybody has stuff on the walls, I just have more of it," she said. "I don't see it, it's just here."

Klossner has no plans to put her cows to pasture anytime soon. In her eyes, the collection is far from complete.

"It's just kind of my hobby," she said. "It's part of me."

Klossner estimates the collection is worth more than her house.

She opens her home up for tours, if you're interested in checking it out, you can call Klossner at 507-240-0048 or email her at

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