Stuhr Museum’s renovated main building, Railroad Town make for informative, fun visit

Stuhr Museum
Bank in 1895 Railroad Town

We took a trip back in time during a visit to the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. We wanted to check out the recently renovated museum building. We were not disappointed.

The museum underwent a $7.4 million renovation over the last couple of years. The lobby area looks similar to its original appearance from 1963. The spiral staircase and water fountains are similar to the design of architect Edward Durell Stone. Stone was a noted architect during his day. He designed the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the second Busch baseball stadium in St. Louis (among many other structures).

Stuhr Museum
The lobby of the renovated Stuhr Building

The museum reopened mid-July after the 18-month renovation. New exhibits are housed there now. Exhibits will be continually changed at the museum to keep things fresh, as well as take advantage of the numerous pieces of memorabilia Stuhr has in storage, we were told.

The second floor is home to small galleries, each offering a different look at life in central Nebraska. People can have their photo taken on a 3-D platform in front of a windmill. If positioned correctly. People posing for photos look like their sitting on a stone staircase.

Stuhr Museum
Windmill where people can take portraits

The museum is hosting a quilt exhibit. Peggie Hartwell’s “Voice on Cloth” runs through Nov. 8th. The fiber artist highlights life and emotions through her quilts.

Stuhr Museum
Quilt that’s included as part of special exhibit

A look at early life on the prairie offers views of weapons, wagons, clothing and supplies. I’m always a fan of the Conestoga wagon.

Stuhr Museum
Pioneer exhibit

Early communication is highlighted with an old telephone operator switchboard, typewriter and radio. The radio is set in a living room, similar to ones people might listen to the evening’s news and entertainment.

Stuhr Museum
Early radio days

Other displays highlighted inventions or new conveniences which helped people of earlier times, including the first X-ray machine used at a local hospital.

Stuhr Museum
Early X-Ray

The conveniences of home life were improved with the advent of better refrigerators and stoves. Hair dryers and curlers have advanced light years compared to what people had to use back in the day.

While we enjoyed our visit to the Stuhr Building, we thought we’d check out the living history museum – Railroad Town. We visited it earlier this year, but the buildings weren’t open then. Railroad Town was observing life in 1895 during this visit.

Stuhr Museum
Railroad Town at Living History museum

We had a chance to look around inside the green house where Academy Award-winning actor Henry Fonda was born. His family lived there for his first nine months.

Stuhr Museum
Henry Fonda’s early childhood home

In addition to the house, the Stuhr Museum campus hosts a Fonda flower garden.

Stuhr Museum
A flower at the Fonda botanical garden

Our stroll through town took us to the Tin Shop, where the local tinsmith was working on making an old-fashioned popcorn container. He also made tin cups and a tin cutting unit in the shape of Nebraska.

Stuhr Museum
Tinsmith hard at work

We stopped at the planning mill in-between jobs. The miller explained to us the projects he’d been working on and showed us how the equipment worked. He offered to make something during our visit, but we didn’t want to interrupt his rest any more than we already had.

We gave the local newspaper office a view. No one was there, but we enjoyed checking out the old printing press.

We visited with a hat designer at the millinery. She makes several hats a year by hand. The ones we saw looked pretty neat.

Stuhr Museum
Handmade hats at the Millinery

We finished our visit with a walk across campus to the Pawnee Indian earth lodge. I’m always impressed how people survived on the plains. Earth lodges looked like they were a good idea. Plus, with grass and weeds growing over them, they were somewhat camouflaged.

Stuhr Museum
Pawnee earth lodge

We enjoyed our second visit to Stuhr Museum. We may have to make our way back out during the holiday season and take in the decorations.

For more information on Stuhr, please visit