As we near the end of October, a majority of Nebraska City’s museums are preparing to close their doors for the year. While a few remain open all year long, even they reduce their open hours for the winter season. The reasoning is simple; in this region of the country the tourism season is primarily in the summer and fall months. With fewer visitors coming in the doors, the cost of maintaining a comfortable temperature in the museums and staffing the front desk is not feasible.
This does not mean that the museums are idle. In some aspects the winter months can be busier than the summer ones. With no visitors to work around, this is the time when new exhibits can be built and installed, and internal restorations or repairs made. Most of the time is spent planning for the next season’s events. 2017 will be an exceptionally busy year for the museums in regards to events and programs. Adding to the normally planned summer events are the commemoration of the State’s 150th anniversary as well as the National Park Service’s annual Chautauqua which will be held in Nebraska City next year. While the museums will be celebrating the state’s anniversary, they will also be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United State’s entrance into World War I.
Critical to this planning is the passing of the re-approval of the LB-840 program by Nebraska City’s citizens in November. This economic development tool uses a small portion of the city’s sales taxes to support potential and improve existing businesses in an effort to increase sales taxes especially from out-of area visitors. The museums receive a very small percentage of this fund annually to provide staffing to keep their doors open and attract visitors to the community. While the voting against the measure will not lower taxes, it will have a profound negative impact on what the city can offer to new businesses and also to the accessibility of the museums.
With only two weeks before the small museums close for the season, I encourage all local visitors to take advantage of what the LB-840 programs contribution offers; free admission to the museums to all local residents. While all of the museums will offer additional programs during the 2017 tourism season, they may be doing it with limited hours and will be forced to charge our local supporters to attend these events. All in all, 2017 should be a very interesting year, but it all begins during the winter months.
IF YOU GO
The Nebraska City Museums’ Residents Program
Ends the last weekend of October, Friday – Sunday, noon-4:00.
Civil War Veterans Museum, Kregel Windmill Factory Museum, Mayhew Cabin, Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Center, Nebraska City Museum of Firefighting, Nelson House, Old Freighters Museum, River Country Nature Center, and Wildwood Historic Center.