Minnesota History: Building A Legacy

Legacy Amendment

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On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to preserve and enhance some of the most important elements of our state. This amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, often referred to as the “Legacy Amendment,” created four funds, one of which is the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF).

The Legacy Amendment mandates that a portion of the ACHF be used “to preserve Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage” (Minnesota Constitution, Article XI, Sec. 15). Each January, the Minnesota Historical Society is required to submit an annual report to the Governor and legislature detailing expenditures it has made from the ACHF.

This site details all ACHF projects and programs funded to date through the Minnesota Historical Society. MNHS strives to publish new project records as soon as they are available.

ACHF history projects are benefitting Minnesotans statewide by:

  • Preserving our state’s most valuable historical and cultural resources for future generations
  • Sharing our state’s stories and treasured resources with ever-growing audiences including students, teachers, scholars, researchers, genealogists and the general public
  • Connecting Minnesotans of all ages to each other and to history—history that is becoming more accessible than ever before

Further information about the use and impact of all Legacy Funds can be found on the Minnesota Legislative Coordinating Commission's Minnesota's Legacy site.


The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF) receives 19.75% of overall Legacy funding. In 2015, the legislature appropriated $29 million from the ACHF to MNHS for the two-year period July 2015–June 2017. That appropriation breaks down to $13.985 million for fiscal year 2016 and $15.015 million for fiscal year 2017.

The legislature divided the fiscal year 2016-2017 appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society into the following six categories:

2016 Appropriation

  1. Statewide Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants -- $5,525,000

  2. Statewide History Programs -- $5,525,000

  3. Statewide History Partnerships -- $2,060,000

  4. Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites -- $300,000

  5. Minnesota Digital Library -- $300,000

  6. Historic Recognition Grants Program -- $275,000

2016 TOTAL: $13,985,000

2017 Appropriation

  1. Statewide Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants -- $6,000,000

  2. Statewide History Programs -- $6,000,000

  3. Statewide History Partnerships -- $2,140,000

  4. Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites -- $300,000

  5. Minnesota Digital Library -- $300,000

  6. Historic Recognition Grants Program -- $275,000

2017 TOTAL: $15,015,000

1,963 grants
Grants have been awarded to 724 organizations across Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program

All 87 Counties
The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) is investing Legacy history funds in all 87 Minnesota counties

100% Return on Investment
For every $1 of Legacy history funds invested, Minnesota receives a return on investment of $2, which directly benefits state and local economies (1)

$2.74 per person, per year
Less than the cost of a cup of coffee—that's how much each Minnesotan pays annually for the programs, partnerships and grants detailed on this website (2)

600,000+ Minnesota students
Students are benefitting from investments in Legacy-funded statewide history programs (3)

1 out of 2
One out of every two dollars requested for historical and cultural heritage grants were awarded (4)

In November 2008, more than half of Minnesotans voted to increase their taxes to preserve Minnesota's legacy, including history and cultural heritage (5)

(1) “An Economic Analysis of Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund Monies: An Update” prepared by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, December 2012
(2) Based on U.S. Census 2014 Minnesota population estimate of 5,489,594 and 2017 appropriation of $15,015,000
(3) Based on cumulative attendance for History Day, History Live!, Then Now Wow field trips andACHF transportation and curriculum sales
(4) Based on overall requested amounts for $17.5 million, and grants awarded of $4.5 million
(5) Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, State Constitutional Amendments Considered, www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/mngov/constitutionalamendments.aspx


Historic Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC)

Legislation specifies that the HRAC, a volunteer citizen panel that guides decisions for the ACHF-funded Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program, have balanced statewide membership and include representatives of local, county, and statewide historic and cultural organizations and programs.

It further requires that the HRAC shall include, but is not limited to, members representing the interests of historic preservation, local history, archaeology, archival programs, and other cultural programs related to the history of Minnesota.

The Historic Resources Advisory Committee consists of thirteen members serving two-year terms and two ex-officio members. They represent a variety of disciplines and are from diverse areas of the state. The committee roster for 2016: 

List of HRAC members and qualifications.

The Minnesota Historical Society Executive Council

All grant recommendations for the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program are reviewed and approved by the Minnesota Historical Society  governing board, the Executive Council. Below is the list of members who served in calendar year 2016:

List of the Society's Governing Board and Executive Council members.

Minnesota History Coalition

The Minnesota History Coalition is an advisory group composed of representatives of various history organizations in Minnesota. Using public input and members' expertise, the History Coalition developed recommendations for the legislature on how the fiscal year 2016-2017 ACHF appropriation for history projects and programs could best serve Minnesotans.

Minnesota History Coalition Members:

  • Council for Minnesota Archaeology

  • Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums

  • Minnesota Archaeological Society

  • Minnesota Association of Museums

  • Minnesota Digital Library

  • Minnesota Genealogical Society

  • Minnesota Historical Society

  • Minnesota History Advocates for Research

  • Minnesota State Historical Records Advisory Board

  • Minnesota's Historic Northwest

  • Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps

  • Preservation Alliance of Minnesota


The Minnesota Legislature reiterated the mandate that every project and program supported by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund report “actual measurable outcomes, and a plan for measuring and evaluating the results.”

MNHS staff and partners are now strongly positioned to ensure that ACHF projects and programs use best practices, current scholarship, and when appropriate, incorporate state-of-the-art technology for demonstrating measurable outcomes.

During FY16-17, MNHS continued to evaluate the impact of ACHF projects and programs to ensure that they demonstrate measurable outcomes as well as economic value for citizens. These results will be shared on two websites explained below.


The Minnesota Historical Society has an obligation to the citizens of Minnesota to ensure that ACHF funds entrusted to our care are invested in ways that are transparent and will produce the greatest measurable impact on Minnesotans, enabling our state to thrive.

To meet this goal, MNHS has assisted in the building of, and has itself built, websites that inform the public about all ACHF initiatives funded through MNHS.

The first, Minnesota's Legacy (www.legacy.leg.mn), was created by the Legislative Coordinating Commission and contains information on all legacy-funded projects. The second website (this one), "Minnesota History: Building a Legacy," (legacy.mnhs.org) is maintained by MNHS and provides more in-depth project descriptions, photos, videos and information on opportunities to participate in history-related ACHF initiatives.

Through the end of the biennium, MNHS will continue to post the most current information about history-related ACHF initiatives on both websites, ensuring transparency and responsible stewardship of the funds.

This site is updated regularly with descriptions and data related to Legacy projects funded through the Minnesota Historical Society by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF).
Further information about the use and impact of all Legacy Funds can be found on the Minnesota Legislative Coordinating Commission's Minnesota's Legacy site.