Recently my husband and I visited the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Visitors begin at the recently renovated Stuhr Building. This building features exhibits giving an overview of the area’s history, from Native American life to the railroad’s influence.
Then we went to the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda which housed Native American artifacts, as well as cowboy and horse artifacts.
The museum grounds also feature multiple historic homes and a re-creation of a representative 1890s pioneer town dubbed Railroad Town.
This rural church reminded me a little of one I attended as a small child.
This log cabin was built in the 1850s in the Grand Island area. It had two rooms and a loft and was the home of a family of six.
The museum also has a replica of a Pawnee earth lodge, circa 1830s. This was big enough to be home to more than 30 Pawnee at a time.
A fun thing about living history museums is talking with the interpreters and learning details about the daily lives of the people the museums represent.
At one home we visited, the interpreter pointed out one of the light fixtures. It was both gas and electric. The homeowners were well-off financially and had electricity, but the electric company turned off the electricity at 5 p.m. Then the homeowners used gas (which they made themselves, like acetylene gas) to light their home in the evenings.
In addition to the living history aspects of the museum, the Stuhr Museum also houses collections and archives that are available for researchers.
For more info:
Have any of you been to this museum? Another living history museum? What’s the most surprising thing you learned?
I was in Virginia last weekend for my husband’s graduation. The festivities included visiting some friends’ home in Williamsburg for fun, as well as an academic meeting.
But one day we were able to squeeze in a couple short visits to Colonial Williamsburg.
We’d been to Colonial Williamsburg several years ago and saw lots of the interpreters at work in various colonial occupations and the inside of a number of the historical buildings. So, I survived not getting to see everything this time.
That’s part of the beauty of Colonial Williamsburg. You don’t have to do a tour or spend a whole day there to benefit.
You need to buy a pass or tickets to get into the buildings, such as the printer’s or the milliner’s shop, and interact with the interpreters there. But, there are certain places, such as a pub or a garden, where the general public is welcome. And there are interpreters, that ride horses or stroll up and down the street, who interact with visitors.
A few streets are open to cars, but most are only accessible by walkers, runners, and bicyclists–and without an entrance fee. There is also a commercial area on one end of the little community that boasts restaurants, book stores, ice cream shops, mall-type clothing stores, and cheese and candy stores, etc.
On this visit, we hit up some of the shops and strolled down part of the main road. The thing that I really noticed this trip was how beautiful the gardens were, especially since they are about a month ahead of our gardens in the upper Midwest.
Have you visited Colonial Williamsburg or another living history-type place/monument/museum? What is your favorite thing about visiting historical sites?