LITTLE -FALLS - Minnesota soldiers have played pivotal roles in wars throughout the ages,  and Memorial Day weekend notwithstanding, the museum at Camp Ripley has made it their daily mission to highlight that fact.

The Minnesota Military Museum is the state's most extensive and complete collection of service-related artifacts and memorabilia. This professionally-curated collection contains over 50,000 artifacts from all wars - everything from civil war bullets to tanks from WWII.

The goal of the curators, says executive director Jeff Thielen, is to create exhibits that focus specifically on telling the stories of Minnesota soldiers.

Thielen says one of the most powerful stories in the museum is housed in the Civil War exhibit, which opened last July. The collection of uniforms, bullets, weapons, photos and more highlights many facets of the civil war, but particularly the battle of Gettysburg, and the legendary sacrifice made by the First Minnesota Charge.  During this battle, only 47 of the 262 Minnesota soldiers survived the first 15 minutes of combat.

At 83%, Thielen says, it represents the highest percentage of causalities of any Union regiment.

This exhibit also includes history and artifacts from what has been called Minnesota's "Other Civil War" - the battle between native Americans and white settlers. It was a war, Thielen says, that shaped the future of our state by keeping Minnesota soldiers in service even after the end of the war between the union and confederacy.

This war, he says, remains that with the most casualties of any conflict between native Americans and settlers throughout history.

The exhibit has been opened to the public since last July, and has been met with high turnout and strong praise. Thielen says they're excited to be offering guided tours of the museum this summer from passionate, knowledgeable volunteer docents from all around the state.

The Minnesota Military Museum's summer hours are 10 a.m to 5 p.m. 7 days a week, through September 30th.

Check out this video of our recent tour.