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Museum receives major grant
February 09, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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An artist's rendering of the combined campus layout.

The North Platte Valley Museum (NPVM) has taken a major step forward in its relocation project, thanks to a $245,000 grant from the Scotts Bluff County Tourism Committee.

The grant, which requires a 50 percent match from the museum, will be used for construction of an addition at the current Farm And Ranch Museum, where NPVM plans to move. Estimates put the cost of building the new addition in the $816,000 range.
“This project is a great fit for what county tourism supports,” said NPVM director Katie Bradshaw. “Our two museums are two halves that we want to put together into a whole and build something really amazing for tourists. This funding will do a lot toward getting us toward our vision.”

Bradshaw said even before the museum launches its capital campaign for the move, support has been coming in from around the community. The local Rotary Club has pledged proceeds from its March 24 Rotary Gold fundraiser toward the project. Past Rotary events have raised anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.

Also, the City of Gering has agreed to purchase the current museum building at appraised value for use by the city parks department.

“The tourism committee usually takes a month to award grant requests,” Bradshaw said. “I was surprised when they called me the afternoon I made the presentation.”
Museum staff has identified a number of foundations that award grants for tourism related projects. However, Bradshaw said she didn’t see a grant that would be a good fit until the museum’s membership approved the move to FARM. On Jan. 19, the membership approved the move by a 53-5 vote.

“We need to hammer out the rough sketch of what we want to do with the buildings,” Bradshaw said. “We also need to get estimates on redesigning the parking lot, moving all the buildings and a lot of other things.”

One of the big challenges ahead is how to move the sod house to its new home. Old newspaper archives from the 1970s chronicle when the house was first moved from its original location.

“We will probably end up doing what they did last time,” Bradshaw said. “They used as much as original sod as possible for the exterior and cut new sod to fill in the rest.”

Another group of members from both museums are now working on the group’s organizational structure, its new bylaws and other operational considerations.
Bradshaw said the tourism grant wouldn’t have been possible without solid support from the community and numerous organizations. The merged museums project also met with the approval of a report from the state’s Tourism Assessment Program. The report said the new site would be a natural location for a new tourism information center. However, with so many other variables to work out, that might be far into the future.

“The new museum will offer an opportunity for us to tell the stories of other cultures that made important contributions to our area in the way of agriculture,” Bradshaw said. “The Japanese, the Mexicans, the German-Russians – neither of our current museums tell their story. By coming together, it gives us an even greater incentive to tell those stories.”

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