The typical art and natural history museums are a great way to spend a day, but what about when you’re in the mood for exploring the quirkier side of Nebraska? These 10 museums are all dedicated to some rather specific and unusual subjects.
1) National Museum of Roller Skating, Lincoln
This fun gem contains the largest collection of historical roller skates in the world, with pairs dating back as far as 1819. Everything you could ever possibly want to know about roller skating can be found in this building - and admission is free!
2) Frank H. Woods Telephone Museum, Lincoln
If you live in Lincoln, you might have driven past this unassuming building many times without noticing it. Next time, go inside to see more than 500 pieces of telephone history, including switchboards from the early 1900s.
3) The Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream Exhibit, Hastings Museum, Hastings
Almost any Nebraskan can (and will, without prompting) tell you that Kool-Aid was invented here. That fateful invention is immortalized in the permanent Kool-Aid exhibit on the lower level of the Hastings Museum. The highlight: a fiber optic "river" of Kool-Aid flowing beneath your feet.
4) Harold Warp Pioneer Village, Minden
The Pioneer Village in Minden is all about taking you back in time to a simpler way of life. The massive compound contains 26 buildings covering 20 acres. You'll find more than 50,000 pieces of Americana spanning over a century, including an impressive collection of vintage cars and farm equipment.
5) Museum of the Fur Trader, Chadron
The only museum of its kind in the world, the Museum of the Fur Trader preserves the long history of the fur trade in North America. There are some fascinating relics inside, including antique weapons and sundries, but the real highlight of this attraction is the Bordeaux Trading Post, a faithful reproduction of an actual fur trading post built in 1846.
6) Klown Doll Museum, Plainview
Surprisingly, this museum isn't trying to scare your polka-dotted baggy pants off; the city of Plainview just wants to brighten your day. The building houses more than 7000 "klown" dolls, all of which were privately donated.
7) Lee's Legendary Marbles and Collectibles, York
Those of us who grew up with TVs and video games probably won't have fond memories of playing marbles. But Lee Batterton loved the game as a kid and began collecting interesting marbles as a young man. He wound up with a truly spectacular collection of handmade and machine-made marbles. His collection also includes various other collectible items, some of which are for sale.
8) Carhenge, Alliance
Carhenge is not technically a museum by traditional standards, but the faithful replica of England's Stonehenge does provide an interesting step back in time. The monument is composed entirely of classic American vehicles - 39 in all. There is a small visitor's center near the sculpture where you can learn more about Carhenge and the many other sculptures on the site.
9) Dobby's Frontier Town, Alliance
While you're in Alliance visiting Carhenge, take a while to explore Dobby's Frontier Town as well. The hands-on museum is made up of 19 historic buildings all filled with period-appropriate items. The level of detail put into each building is admirable, as is the decision to omit the ropes museums use to keep you away from everything. This allows visitors to get up close to the artifacts and really imagine what it might have been like to live in a Nebraska frontier town.
10) World's Largest Time Capsule, Seward
Though it technically isn't a museum at the moment, it will be when it's opened on July 4, 2025. Local eccentric Harold Keith Davisson wanted to be sure that his descendants understood what his life was like in 1975. Instead of making a photo album, he constructed and buried a 45-ton vault in the yard in front of his furniture and appliances store. Then, not content with the already-massive capsule, he built a second time capsule directly atop the first in the shape of a huge pyramid. Among the huge and eclectic collections inside the vaults: two cars, stacks of phone books, and various clothing items.
Nebraska is so rich in history and interesting people that it’s no wonder we have such a wide variety of kooky museums. What other weird museums are hiding out there in Nebraska?
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