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Belar to retire as museums director

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Lina Belar has announced plans to retire as Executive Director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County, Inc., a non-profit organization that administers two museums in Perham.

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Belar has been with the organization since its inception in 1998 and has helped create two world-class museums in town.

The first, the History Museum of East Otter Tail County, features high quality exhibits about the people, places and events of the area. Called the "poster child of small museums," by staff at the Minnesota Historical Society, it rapidly achieved recognition well beyond its physical borders by becoming one of the first small museums to make historical records available online. Today, it is a busy and well-respected model for others to follow.

The second, the ITOW Veterans Museum, was inspired by the desire of area veterans to see that their stories were not forgotten. Belar took that vision and made it a reality by creating the first museum to be based entirely on the oral histories of veterans. Since opening in 2006, ITOW has caught the attention of state and national leaders for the quality of its exhibits. John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, called it a, "one of a kind experience."

The board of directors has begun the search for a new director and expects to have new staff in place by spring at the latest.

Belar indicated that retirement will not lessen her support for the museums and expects to continue as a volunteer in some capacity. She is particularly excited about having more time to pursue her other passions of music and writing. A book about the ITOW Veterans Museum is expected to be complete sometime next year.

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