The first museum in Dakota County was established in 1955 due to the work of the Dakota County Historical Society. Originally, the museum was housed in the South St. Paul High School and by 1961, it had over 5,000 items. It was not until 1976 that the Dakota County government seeked a bicentennial project, and the Dakota County Historical Society convinced that project to be a new museum. Dakota County broke ground on the museum on December 30, 1976. It was dedicated and named after Fred Lawshe, the former and first president of the Dakota County Historical Society. He was the director and curator of the first museum until his death in 1971. Today, the museum contains over 24,000 objects in its collections and more than 20,000 photographs.