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Legacy of the Plains designers impressed by new museum
March 14, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Six members of Exhibit Design Associates of Estes Park, Colo. were in Gering last week to learn about the new Legacy of the Plains Museums – and they were impressed.

Members the design team called it “a tremendously exciting professional challenge” and said the museums had an outstanding collection in its quality and scope. They said it was truly significant on a local, regional and national level.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like what they have here,” said Biff Baird, principal with Exhibit Design Associates. “The dedication from the community is infectious.”

About 28 members of Legacy of the Plains, which incorporates the Farm And Ranch Museum and the North Platte Valley Museums, met with the design team to work on developing a roadmap for the completed museums.

“One of the big items is the storyline and how we’re going to incorporate that into both of our collections,” said Legacy of the Plains director Katie Bradshaw. “That committee has been meeting for about a year and found it’s difficult to whittle down all the possible threads of stories into something manageable. There are an infinite number of stories we could tell.”

Currently, the design team is in the listening stage with museum board members and volunteers. They’re also making inspection of what the museums have on display, what they have in their research collections, archives and storage.

The design team made a presentation during the Legacy of the Plains annual meeting last week. “They were excited about how all these things are coming together, but never revealed a single thing about what they were thinking for the substance of the exhibits,” Bradshaw said. “We’re still in the very preliminary stages of building these museums.”

Bradshaw said that by October, they should have a floor plan with a rough idea of where the exhibits will be located.

“The design team agreed the museum is a catalyst for change,” she said. “People who go through the museum should come out as changed people, that the museum has changed them in some way. Most of our exhibits tell stories about a catalyst for change. Something happened and it affected everyone. That might end up as a theme for the museum somehow.”

She said a lot of the steel that will make up the new building has already been fabricated. They would like to have the foundation poured sometime in May with the building to follow over the next few months.

“We’re still targeting the end of the year for having an occupancy permit,” Bradshaw said. “This is such an unknown for all us, including the design team. A project like this is extremely rare in combining two established museums into one and developing a whole new story for them.”

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