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540 West Hills Circle
Owatonna, Minnesota 55060

Self-Guided Tour Hours
Monday-Friday: 8 am-4:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 1 pm-5 pm

Cottage 11
May 1-Labor Day:1pm-4pm
Labor Day-Dec 31: 1pm-3pm
Closed January and February
March 15-April 30: 1pm-3pm
or by appt. at 507-774-7369
$2 per person donation appreciated.

Seasonal: May 1-November 1
Map available in main museum with QR codes.
Six audio stations.

Group Tours
We happily schedule guided tours for groups of 10 or more. You will visit the Museum, view a 1930 film, and tour Cottage 11, a restored boys' cottage. A fee is charged. Group Tours Page

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Awards & Honors

Historic Places RecognitionNational Register of Historic Places Recognition
On December 28, 2010, the State School Campus was selected for listing in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior. Ironically, a mere 125 years after legislation was passed establishing the State School, it received national recognition. The property was awarded the highest possible level of significance, meaning this institution held influence on a national/international level. This post-Civil War public institution played a central role in the development of Child Welfare Policies. Considered a state-of-the-art facility, operating from 1886-1945, it was created to mitigate poor conditions of almshouses and children's exposure to criminal, mentally ill, and physically ill adults. The Main Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Orphanage Museum Given Preservation Alliance Award
In 2006, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota named the Orphanage Museum "One of the 25 Best Preserved Historic Sites in Minnesota" during the past 25 years.

DocumentaryThe Children Remember Documentary
Winner of BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Fargo Film Festival, March 2003
Selected as ONE OF BEST OF FEST Minneapolis /
St. Paul International Film Festival, April 2003

2011 Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Advocacy Award
2012 (Owatonna) Tourism Award given to Maxine Ronglien

Maxine Ronglien, museum co-founder, received these awards for the more than two decades she has dedicated to the preservation of State School History.

Harvey and Maxine RonglienAfter retiring from Federated Insurance, Maxine Ronglien and her husband, Harvey, began the campaign to restore the history of West Hills in the early 1990s. Harvey was an orphan at the institution for 11 years. He not only offered a wealth of information, but was also truly passionate about restoring the State School. The initial efforts were headed by the reactivated West Hills Commission, a mayoral appointed body. Maxine served as Chairperson of the Commission for several years. In 1999, the Orphanage Museum officially incorporated and Maxine has served as Chairperson and Chief Operations Officer from that time until her retirement on June 14, 2011. Maxine continues to hold a position on the Board of Directors. Maxine would be the first to tell you that she did not restore this history alone. The restoration would never have been possible without the wonderful support of so many of you who have donated dollars, artifacts, photos, and knowledge. But, it would be disingenuous to think that any of this history would be remembered without Maxine's volunteer efforts. As the primary organizer, she has always been here to pull the right people into action.