News and Events

News Archive


Hess Corporation give $2 million to Heritage Center Expansion, six other energy companies give another $1.35 million

Posted 9/29/10 (Wed)

The Hess Corporation has donated $2 million to the North Dakota Heritage Center Expansion project. It is the largest single private gift to date and puts the capital campaign for private donations past the required amount to begin construction. Donations by six other energy companies were also announced today, bringing an additional $1.35 million to the project.

View photos from the announcement

Governor John Hoeven announced these gifts in the main gallery of the North Dakota Heritage Center. He was joined by John Simon, senior vice president of production for Hess Corporation, representatives of other contributor companies, state officials, legislative leaders, regional energy industry representatives, board and staff members from the State Historical Society of North Dakota and its Foundation, and other Heritage Center volunteers and supporters.

The Hess Corporation is one of North Dakota’s pioneers in oil development, having a major presence in the state for the past 60 years. Amerada Oil, which merged with the Hess Corporation in 1969, drilled North Dakota’s first oil well, Clarence Iverson Number 1, in eastern Williams County on April 4, 1951. The $2 million gift will sponsor the Northern Lights Atrium at the new main entrance of the Heritage Center.

“This is an exciting day for the North Dakota Heritage Center, a showcase for North Dakota’s rich culture and history,” said Hoeven. “In addition to recognizing the generous contributions of Hess Corporation and other major partners in North Dakota’s energy industry, we are also celebrating the launch of construction for this historic expansion project.”

“Hess was the first to discover oil in North Dakota at the Clarence Iverson Well. Since then, operations in the state have served as an engine helping to fueling our growth as we have become a global company operating in 20 countries, producing more than 400,000 barrels of oil per day,” said Simon. “Hess and its employees are proud to be active participants in the state’s history and to have this opportunity to commemorate your legacy and ours with the expansion of the Center.”  

Major gifts from the other six donors announced today range from $350,000 to $100,000 and total $1.35 million. The donors and the areas their gifts are sponsoring are:

·         Whiting Petroleum, $350,000 – The Geologic Time “Planet Earth” Theater
·         MDU Resources Group, $250,000 – The Missouri River Special Events Center
·         North American Coal Corporation, $250,000 – The Souris River Hall American Indian Hall of Fame 
·         Marathon Oil, $200,000 – The Early Peoples Youth Learning Lab and Inspiration Youth Learning Lab
·         North Dakota Petroleum Council, $200,000 – Two study stations in the Inspiration Gallery
·         Brigham Exploration Company, $100,000 – The Legislative Hall of Honors

Two other major gifts to the North Dakota Heritage Center, also from energy companies, were announced last December and January. They were $1.3 million from Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, and $1.8 million from Continental Resources, Inc. To date, the energy industry has contributed a total of $6.55 million to the Heritage Center expansion project.

Merl Paaverud, director of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, said the expansion of the Heritage Center, which will nearly double its size with the addition of 97,000 square feet, should be completed by 2014, the 125th anniversary of North Dakota. “What better time than that to showcase an extraordinary state museum that reflects our rich heritage and history, not only for us, but also for our children and for generations to come,” Paaverud said.

The 2009 Legislative Assembly authorized $51.7 million for the expansion of the exhibits and collections spaces of the North Dakota Heritage Center. Of this, $39.7 million in state funds was appropriated. An additional $12 million is being raised from private and other sources, said Foundation Executive Director Virginia Nelsen.

According to Foundation Development Director Marlo Sveen, these gifts announced today bring the total of private donations to date to just over $9 million. “The energy industry has been fueling North Dakota’s strong economy for many years,” said Sveen. “It is very fitting that the energy industry has also been leading this first half of our private fundraising campaign.”

Project bids for the Heritage Center construction will be opened Oct. 28, and following that a groundbreaking date will be announced.

The State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation is a private, non-profit organization supported by membership and donations. It was formed in 1965 by the state legislature to generate private financial support for the State Historical Society’s projects and programs that are not funded by the legislature. 

The Foundation is governed by a board, which in addition to McMillan includes Wally Beyer, vice president, Bismarck; Barb Lang, treasurer, Jamestown; Darrell Dorgan, secretary, Bismarck; Pat Grantier, Bismarck; Mike Gustafson, Kindred; Armen Hanson, Devils Lake; State Senator Robert Horne (D-Minot); Tom Riley, Fargo; Dalles Schneider, Bismarck; and State Historical Society Board Liaison Gereld Gerntholz, Valley City. For more information call 701-222-1966 or visit