One of the greatest complaints of museums, even on a national scale, is the limited number of local visitors. Efforts such as special events and speaker series are offered aimed at just this audience and yet local attendance is still less than what is hoped. In most cases it is not necessarily due to lack of awareness or apathy; it’s more a matter of priorities.
As I always tell the museums’ board members and volunteers, “It is easier to get a visitor from a hundred miles away than ten blocks.” The reasoning is simple, when an individual or family leave town on either a vacation or just a day-trip, they have undedicated time. With this free time, they are more apt to visit attractions, which includes museums; many see museums as entertainment as much as education. However, once they return home; that undedicated time disappears. Now their time is occupied with work, home care, children or grandchildren activities, special interests and a host of other obligations which absorb any free time. In addition, to this is the mentality that the museums are always there creating a “maybe tomorrow” mentality. In the case of visiting local museums, that tomorrow could be as much as ten years away.
One opportunity that Nebraska City residents have which many other communities cannot offer is the “Nebraska City Museums Residents Program.” This program is made possible in part through a grant from the Nebraska City Growth Fund, formerly known as the LB-840 Fund, which assists nine of the community’s ten museums with stipends allowing for the hiring of part-time seasonal attendants. This allows even the smaller museums to offer regular open hours during the summer months. A perk associated with the Nebraska City Growth Fund is free admission to the nine museums for all Nebraska City residents. As this is local sales tax money in use, residents living in the 68410 zip code merely need to show proof of residency to visit the museums. It does not limit the number of visits, which creates the opportunity of stopping in at one of the museums just for a peek to see if it is something that is interesting enough to make a return visit when more time is available. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity may surprise you with what Nebraska City’s museums actually offer. Whether it is for the first time or a visit to see the improvements made during the winter, you may find that extra time in an otherwise busy schedule to enjoy the community’s museums.