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Museum to receive statewide recognition
August 21, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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The Legacy of the Plains Museum has made a large step forward in their goal to create a world-class museum when the NEBRASKAland Foundation voted to recognize them as a recipient of the Rising Star Award.

The foundation’s website said the award is given “to recognize outstanding tourism attractions or significant expansions to existing attractions and efforts in social and economic development.”

LPM board member George Schlothauer said he knew of the award about a month ago but wanted written confirmation before announcing it to the public. That confirmation didn’t come until early August.

“The governor is always the honorary chairman of the foundation,” Schlothauer said. “Every March 1 on Statehood Day, they have a big celebration at the state capital and recognize the winners of the Rising Star Award.”

Some of the recent Rising Star Award winners include the Wesses Living History Farm in York, the Nebraska Holocaust Memorial in Lincoln, Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island and the Holy Family Shrine in Gretna.

Schlothauer said foundation representatives will present the award during museum’s Harvest Festival, Sept. 20 – 21. The museum also plans to have their first new exhibit open to the public at that time. Museum board members will be in Lincoln next March 1 for the official celebration.

“This is really a nice recognition,” Schlothauer said. “Although there’s no money involved, the recognition will help when we apply for grants to continue funding our expansion.”

LPM executive director Katie Bradshaw agreed the recognition will help when they look for grants in the future. “This is a statewide recognition that what we’re doing here is on a higher level,” she said. “I’m grateful they realize it’s a lot of hard work to merge two museums that had their own ways of operating.”

It was less than two years ago when the boards of the North Platte Valley Museum and the Farm And Ranch Museum were undecided as to what to call the newly combined venue.

“We wondered about that a lot until a member of the community came up with a name that worked,” Bradshaw said. “Legacy describes us. It’s the legacy of agriculture and the people that we’re telling.”

Bradshaw said the NEBRASKAland Foundation award ceremony should be on Saturday, Sept. 20 at about 12:30 p.m., just before the Harvest Festival parade of historic tractors. That time will also coincide with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the first exhibit of the newly expanded museum. That exhibit, “Voices on the Prairie Wind,” is an introduction to the museum.

Also on Sept. 20, a representative from the Union Pacific Foundation will be in attendance to present another grant.

Bradshaw said Legacy of the Plains Museum was among the 66 Nebraska nonprofit organizations to receive a grant from the Union Pacific Foundation in 2014. Union Pacific granted the museum $20,000 to help develop a “Trails and Transportation” exhibit, which is one of seven exhibit themes in the permanent indoor exhibits planned at the museum.

The other exhibit themes are Ranching and Livestock, Dryland Farming, Irrigated Farming, Trade and Commerce, Dwellings and Domestic Life, and High Plains Gallery. These permanent exhibits are expected to be installed in 2016.

Even with the opening of the first exhibit, much work remains before Legacy of the Plains is completed. Changing exhibits will be on display for the 2015 season. Also by that summer, the log cabin and sod house at the former North Platte Valley Museum will be moved to the Legacy campus.

Then in the winter of 2015 – 2016, placement of the exhibits will be finalized with the completed museum ready for the 2016 tourism season.

Fundraising for exhibit development is ongoing. For more information, contact Capital Campaign Co-chairs Nancy Haney at (308) 436-1989 or George Schlothauer at (308) 436-5724.
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