Editor’s Note: Nebraska is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017. As the state observes its sesquicentennial, we are taking a look at some of the state’s attractions we’ve enjoyed visiting. Today, we revisit our stops at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island…
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other displays highlighted inventions or new conveniences which helped people of earlier times, including the first X-ray machine used at a local hospital.
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.
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.
In addition to the house, the Stuhr Museum campus hosts a Fonda flower 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.
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.
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.
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 www.stuhrmuseum.org.