County-By-County: Buffalo - Prairie Moon Museum

In our County-By-County series, we take you to a museum hidden among the bluffs in Cochrane where nearly 40 concrete and stone sculptures sit. These sculptures are the handy-work of a local farmer turned artist.

Fox 25/48's Abigail Hantke takes us to the museum where restoration efforts are underway.

"You can see there are indents from when he originally fit pieces in the concrete so fits right in there just like that."

For nearly a month now...

"Right now we're replacing glass and seashells and a little bit of pottery on the arches.

... and the past few years ...

"About three years, me and Jimmy been doing maintenance work here, it’s an ongoing job, stuff gets older and it’s got to be taken care of."

The Prairie Moon Sculptures Garden and Museum has been getting somewhat of a facelift.

"They were built in the 50s, 60s, 70s."

These concrete sculptures were created by local farmer, Herman Rusch, a self-taught artist, who passed away in 1985, eleven days after his 100th birthday.

His work, restored and on display for anyone to enjoy in Cochrane.

"Now these sculptures are not an easy sight to miss from Highway 35, but hidden among the hills, those who maintain the grounds say they only get about 1000 visitors a year.

Those who run the grounds say the museum attracts a unique crowd... some traveling from as far away as Texas to view these unique pieces of work. However, for some it’s a just a few minutes’ drive down the road.

“Are you an artist yourself?"

"No."

But volunteer Ron Fetting says it's a sight not worth missing.

"You can see the artist, the old guy that did it, he was really an artist."

These sculptures are what you call untrained art or naive art, as Rusch, the artist, didn't begin his creations until retiring from the farm.

"Picked everyone himself, as far as I know most of them come from the hills, and some the brick of course he bought or wherever he could get it, most the stuff was free I’m sure."

Fetting, along with others like Ruthie Rolfsmeyer, have been chipping away at restoring the sculptures that haven't had a makeover in years.

"When it’s done its done for 15-20 years."

In Cochrane, Fox 25/48 News at Nine.

You can watch Fox 25/48's half-hour special on Buffalo County coming up this Saturday, August 26th at 9:30 PM immediately following Fox 25/48 News at Nine.


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