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Area groups receive major grants
June 13, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Scotts Bluff National Monument Superintendent Ken Mabery and Legacy of the Plains Museums Director Katie Bradshaw said they groups have each received grant funding from the Cooper Foundation in Lincoln.

Scotts Bluff National Monument and the Legacy of the Plains Museums (LPM) have each received $10,000 grants from the Lincoln based Cooper Foundation to help further each group’s mission.

Both groups had applied separately for funding. And LPM Director Katie Bradshaw said she was impressed by the awards. “If you look on the Cooper Foundation website, they primarily award grants in Lincoln and Lancaster County,” she said. “They were impressed with each of our applications.”

Bradshaw said their funding will be used to help the exhibit designers to organize the collections of both the Farm And Ranch Museum and the North Platte Valley Museum into a cohesive storyline for the new combined Legacy of the Plains Museums.

“Our focus with the exhibit designers is to determine what the takeaway message will be when people visit us,” she said. “That requires a comprehensive plan because both our collections have so many stories to tell. We need to narrow it down and identify the key stories that emphasize the artifacts we have.”

Mabery said the monument is in a similar position. Their grant will go toward historical research, which will lead to better exhibits. “We haven’t had any real new historical research on the Oregon Trail and the monument in about 70 years.”

The monument will use its funding to bring out graduate research students from the Public

Lands History Center on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
“Every penny of the grant is going to students who will be doing the research for us,” Mabery said.

The four major areas of research include history of the monument as a national park, history of Robidoux Pass, history of other sites in the area such as Fort Mitchell, and Native American occupation and use of the area.

Mabery said the federal government has set aside funding to redo all the exhibits in the visitors’ center, but availability of funding has yet to be determined. “When we have that funding, we’ll start a process similar to Legacy of the Plains to revamp all the exhibits.”

He added that while the new visitors’ center won’t be larger in size, it will include climate control so the original paintings and photographs from the William Henry Jackson collection can be displayed.
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