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That’s Entertainment: An Introduction to Minnesota’s Theater, Music, and Motion Picture History

July 19, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

From the 1820’s when soldiers at Fort Snelling presented Shakespearean plays for one another,  entertainment—theater, music, variety entertainers, radio and the movies—has played an important part in the lives of Minnesotans.  Historian Tom Olson explores show business in Minnesota from lyceum halls and ubiquitous opera houses to motion picture nickelodeons, palaces, modernes, and multiplexes as well as live theater, symphony and opera during the evening program.

Tom Olson grew up in Red Wing, graduated from the University of Wisconsin River Falls in 1964 and received an M.A. in American History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He then taught at what is now Minnesota State University in Mankato. After receiving a Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Minnesota he became Associate Director of Research Administration at the University of Minnesota with primary responsibility for university relations with private foundations and the State of Minnesota.  Olson later began a comprehensive development program for The Saint Paul Academy and Summit Schools, created planned and endowment giving programs at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Fairview hospitals and the Courage Center.  He was also a capital, endowment, and planned gifts consultant for arts organizations and numerous other not-for-profits and wrote extensively about computerized development management systems, charitable trusts, and capital and endowment campaigns.

Upon retirement Olson returned to history pursuits.  His book, Sheldon’s Gift: Music, Movies and Melodrama in the Desirable City was published in 2009 and he is currently at work on a book about Minnesota politics in the 1960’s and 70’s.  He has two daughters and five grandchildren who live in Minneapolis.  He and his wife, Elizabeth, have lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico since 2008.

Cost for this exciting program is $5 for non-members and free for members/students.

Copies of his book, Sheldon’s Gift, are available in the History Center gift shop or via the online store.


July 19, 2017
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Dustin Heckman
(651) 388-6024


Goodhue County History Center
1166 Oak Street
Red Wing, MN 55066 United States
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