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On summer days in years past, the Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame in Little Falls attracted as many as 40 visitors, each coming to see antique rods, reels, lures and outboard motors, and to learn about the state’s storied fishing heritage.

This year ... not so much, thanks to road construction that since May 13 has made the 21-year-old establishment a challenge to find.

“You can get here by car, but it’s not easy,’’ said Brenda Perlowski, executive director of the museum and hall of fame. “There’s been no traffic allowed in front of the museum since June. Some days we’ve had zero people come in.’’

Road building is expected to plague the museum and hall of fame until October. Its financial situation is dire as a result, and Perlowski is hoping for donations to keep the operation afloat.

Founded in 1998 by Al Baert of Sartell, Minn., and Morry Sauve of St. Cloud, the museum was first housed in space donated by the Little Falls City Council. Needing more room just six months later, the museum moved to its present Little Falls location with 10,000 square feet of display space at 304 W. Broadway.

In 2013, the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame in the Gander Mountain store in Baxter, near Brainerd, merged with the museum.

Each spring at the Northwest Sportshow at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Hall of Fame inducts new honorees.

Since its founding, the museum and hall of fame has been financially stable, benefiting from memberships, fundraisers, gate admissions, gift-shop sales, donations and charitable gaming.

But last week, Perlowski and two co-workers were late getting paid. They might not have been paid at all, in fact, if Baert hadn’t donated $10,000 to keep the lights on.

Anyone donating $100 or more will receive special recognition, Perlowski said. Checks can be mailed to Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame, 304 W. Broadway, Little Falls, MN 56345. Phone 329-616-2011. Donations also can be made online at mnfishingmuseum.com and fishinghalloffamemn.com.

danderson@startribune.com