Current Exhibitions

The Museum Collects

February 10- April 7, 2019

Works from the Museum's collection.

Artists included:

Judy Onofrio
Matthew Anderson
Marley Kaul
Duane Penske
David Madzo
Kellyann Burns
Lena McGrath Welker
Robert Brady
Caroline Dukes
Joel Stuart
Kiki Smith
Bill Hartbort
William Wiley
Paula Santiago
Teo Nguyen
Peter Dean
Helen Frankenthaler
Robert Motherwell
Susan Rothenberg
Julian Schnabel
Donald Sultan
Alec Soth
Richard Nonas
Barton Benes


Judy Onofrio, Hear a Dear, 1992. Mixed Media, 48x 44x 17 inches (Detail)

Paula Santiago, De la Serie: "MOAN: Poliptico, 1987. Rice Paper, human blood, glass, marble, 69x136 inches (Detail)



Elmer Thompson:
The Inventor

February 10 - April 7, 2019

Opening February 10 at 3:30 pm 
following Poulnec Trio concert at 2:00 pm

Presentation by Dr. Ken Smith at 4 pm

Growing up on a farm in rural North Dakota, Elmer O. Thompson (1891-1984) developed his creative impulses with photography, educating himself in matters of staging, lighting, and processing. Mr. Thompson quickly became an expert in the use of his 5 x 7 camera. His early photos show the development of a talent that would lead him first to the State Normal and Industrial School in Ellendale, where he served as the official school photographer. He went on to earn an electrical engineering degree at the University of California, served in the Signal Corps in Paris in WWI, and then moved to the center of technological innovation in New York City.

Mr. Thompson earned the first six of his ultimate thirty patents at the AT&T Headquarters at 195 Broadway. From there he moved to RCA Victor, then spent several decades at Philco, where he earned two dozen more patents, including the first wireless radio remote control (Philco’s “Mystery Control”) and a phonograph that transferred the signal from record to the amplifier by means of an optical sensor (the “Beam of Light” system).

Mr. Thompson’s progress—from the prairies of North Dakota to the technological heartland of the early radio and television age—illustrates the marriage of artistic vision with technological innovation. This exhibition illustrates that career with large framed prints of his photographs, many of which were taken in and around Ellendale and near his home in Cavalier County. These include individual portraits, landscapes, buildings, and staged trick photographs.

A special reception and an illustrated presentation by historian Dr. Ken Smith will be held Sunday, February 10 at 4 pm at the Museum. Paul Gronhovd, owner of Mr. Thompson’s glass plate collection and a photographer himself, printed the images for the show. On Sunday he will also discuss the process of recovering and presenting fine historical photos.

Fred Thompson Holding a Kitten, Elmer O. Thompson Photographer, circa 1910. Digital print from glass plate negative printed by Paul Gronhovd



Barton's Place


Barton Lidice Benes lived in a magical apartment in New York City. It was filled with over $1 million in African, Egyptian, South American, Chinese and contemporary art, plus much more as touted in the New York Times when it announced Barton’s intended gift to North Dakota (2/6/05).

Barton Benes and his treasure trove spent decades tucked away in a glorious boxcar space in Westbeth, the artist community in New York’s West Village. There, rare works of art joined ranks with the arcane, the wistful, the amusing, the deeply serious, and a “maddening and morbid array of things” (a human toe found on New York’s Williamsburg Bridge, a stuffed mink wearing a mink coat, an eight-foot giraffe head). This temporary installation suggests the drama and mystery embedded in Barton’s private wonderland. Continue reading...


Radiolab Podcast: As It Happens




Please note, check the website often. Dates are subject to change.