Nebraska's Heritage, Explored Through Museums
By: U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel
January 20th, 2005 - Nebraska can be proud of its strong heritage and rich history. Part of what helps preserve Nebraska's cultural heritage are the eclectic museums across the state. Some museums are better known than others, but all make important contributions to the advancement and preservation of Nebraska's history and culture. Following are just a few examples of the diverse museums Nebraskans can enjoy.
The Museum of the Fur Trade - Chadron:
Chadron's Museum of the Fur Trade is located on the original trading post site established by the American Fur Company in 1837. The museum offers an historical glimpse into the economic, social and cultural impact the North American fur trade had on those living in the area in the mid 19th Century. The detailed exhibits showcase period items such as textiles, beads, guns, silver and other items that were traded at the post.
I served as honorary chair of the museum's Capital Campaign Committee in 2002. Much hard work and dedication to the preservation of this time in Nebraska's history is evident throughout the museum. More information about the Museum of the Fur Trade can be found at http://www.furtrade.org or by calling 308/432-5963. Tours of the museum during the winter months are made by appointment.
The Nebraska Prairie Museum - Holdrege:
The Nebraska Prairie Museum of the Phelps County Historical Society features artifacts, documents and memorabilia that illustrate the lifestyles of our Nebraska ancestors. The museum highlights America's technological advancements with a large collection of antique automobiles and agricultural equipment as well as a display of a prairie history collection which includes vintage clothing, tools, glassware and Native American artifacts.
A unique aspect of the Nebraska Prairie Museum is its Prisoners of War (POW) exhibit. During World War II, German POW's were housed at Camp Atlanta, south of Holdrege. This exhibit illustrates the prisoners' lives and the relationships they developed with the community during a tumultuous time in America's history. More information about the Nebraska Prairie Museum can be found at http://www.nebraskaprairie.org or by calling 308/995-5015.
The Edgerton Explorit Center - Aurora:
Dr. Harold "Doc" Edgerton, a famous inventor for whom the museum is named, grew up in Aurora, Nebraska. He was named one of the 15 most influential inventors of the 20th Century by the National Geographic Society. His contributions to science are remembered and explored throughout the museum's dynamic exhibits. The Edgerton Explorit Center provides hands-on learning for those interested in science and features demonstrations, clinics and distance learning for individuals of all ages. For more information about the Edgerton Explorit Center, visit http://www.edgerton.org or call 877/694-4032.
The Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail Center - Nebraska City:
I visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail Center in May for the official ceremony opening the 12,000 foot interactive educational facility. The center sits on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River and highlights Lewis and Clark's scientific discoveries during their exploration of the West over 200 years ago. Displayed inside the building is an authentic replica of a 55 foot-long keelboat used during their travels, a great hall filled with animal statues and interactive exhibits that allow an individual to experience this amazing journey
first-hand. For more information about the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, visit http://www.mrb-lewisandclarkcenter.org or call
The Douglas County Historical Society - Omaha:
The Douglas County Historical Society is located on the Metropolitan Community College Campus at Historic Fort Omaha. The Society oversees the General Crook House Museum and offers seminars, lectures and exhibits encompassing the history of Douglas County. The General Crook House Museum is the authentically restored 19th Century home of General George Crook, a Civil War hero and Commander of the Department of the Platte in the late 1800's. The museum is a living history to the time period and offers a unique look into the region's rich past. More information can be found by calling 402/455-9990 or on the web at www.omahahistory.org.
More information about many of Nebraska's museums can be found on the Nebraska Museum Association's website, http://www.visitnebraska.org/about/links.htm, or by contacting your local Nebraska or County Historical Society chapter. Consider becoming a patron or member of your local museum and contribute to efforts that will help to ensure the preservation of Nebraska's heritage for generations to come.