New job overseeing Duluth's historic mansion museum to take director from Bong Center

Glensheen has named its next director.

Dustin Heckman poses for a portrait at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior on Nov. 12, 2019, shortly after being named that organization's director. He is now headed into a new leadership role across the bridge at Glensheen. Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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Dustin Heckman will trade in one job preserving and archiving history for another. The executive director of the Richard I. Bong Historical Center in Superior has been selected to serve as director of Glensheen mansion, a historic museum owned and operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Since 2019, Heckman has led the Bong Center . His history credentials run deep, as he graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a degree in history, worked for several county historical societies in southern Minnesota and served as coordinator of the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums before landing in Superior.

Heckman's predecessor at Glensheen, Dan Hartman, was recently named executive director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center . The mansion was home to the family of Clara and Chester Congdon, a prominent attorney who amassed a fortune investing in the region's mining and timber industries. The family later donated the estate to the University of Minnesota system to be preserved and shared with the public as a piece of history.

When UMD sought to find Hartman's replacement, the job drew "a strong pool of candidates" from near and far, according to Lynne Williams, the school's director of marketing and public relations. She said that field was narrowed to two finalists before Heckman was selected.

Heckman said he has been impressed by Glensheen and its creative team in recent years.


"I just felt it was a great opportunity," he said.

"I really enjoy the Twin Ports area and I wanted to land somewhere where I could make a difference and grow a great organization that's a huge asset not just to the region, but to our state and the Midwest and national museum scenes," Heckman added.

Heckman, Dustin_web.jpg
Dustin Heckman

Yet, the promotion is somewhat bittersweet, as Heckman said he will miss working for the Bong Center when he leaves in mid-November.

"We have great people here at the Bong who have been amazing to work with, and getting to know not just the staff, but also the volunteers, many of which are veterans, has meant a lot. Just hearing about their experiences and their stories really has hit home for me," he said. "It really has given me a deeper appreciation for our military, our veterans, what they went through, and what they continue to go through today."

Before his departure from the Bong, Heckman will see the center through its annual fundraiser Nov. 4, including a silent auction, programming that features veterans' stories and a community appeal for support. That event again will shift to an online platform out of concern for public safety, as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers.

A history buff to his core, Heckman said: "It's tied to so many different things, and it can help you understand how things work today, how we've overcome our differences and made a difference in the world."

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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