A Fresh Look at Custer County’s History: Museum Hosts Grand Re-Opening

A Fresh Look at Custer County’s History: Museum Hosts Grand Re-Opening
Community members and Senator Matt Williams gathered for the grand re-opening at the Custer County Museum on Monday.

BROKEN BOW—After twenty-five years on the Broken Bow city square, the Custer County Museum recently underwent a $10,000 renovation project and hosted a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting on Monday afternoon. Thanks to grants from Custer County Tourism and the Eighmy Foundation, as well as donations from countless donors, the Custer County Historical Society was able to pursue the project during the last few months. Donations from the last three years of pie/ice cream socials also went toward the project.

From sanding display cabinets to painting the walls, hundreds of volunteer hours made the renovation possible. Bow Family Furniture installed the new carpet, but most everything else was completed by board members. The board designed an updated layout of exhibits and placed new displays in the antique cabinets. (Click here to view the museum’s Facebook page and view photos from the renovation.) 

Custer County Historical Society Board President Lance Bristol (center right) welcomes everyone to Monday’s open house and ribbon cutting

The public was invited on Monday to attend the museum’s grand re-opening, open house, and ribbon cutting and celebrate a fresh start at preserving Central Nebraska’s history. Museum curator Tammy Hendrickson said she is thankful for the community and volunteer hours that were donated to update the museum layout.

“Everything, anything was donated and we’re thankful for that. [It’s] a refreshed sense of history as we bring more of a general store look from the 1900s timeframe. We did reuse every antique cabinet we had and just put new displays in them. It just gives them a new sense—a fresh look,” Hendrickson said.

The historical society convened in 1961 and today’s board members represent communities from throughout the county. The museum used to be located in the Carnegie building and other locations prior. Board president Lance Bristol said the grand re-opening is a new and exciting way to celebrate. The current location is also handicap accessible.

“If you’re going to get new people to come into your building, you have to have a new look and so we asked a couple people about their ideas and we got some ideas. So thanks to a lot of hard work by Tammy, our curator, and the crew from Bow Family Furniture who laid the carpet and did all this furniture moving…we are in a new place. I mean, it looks new to me, I love coming in here,” Bristol said.

District #36 Senator Matt Williams attended Monday’s ribbon cutting and recognized Custer County Tourism and the historical society by saying “tourism helps make Custer County what it is.”

Hendrickson said items in the museum range from the Civil War era and onward with displays by local collectors, artists, and craftsmen. Almost all of the items and displays in the museum were donated from families and community members, aside from the cabinets that were purchased from the Wescott, Gibbons and Bragg general store in Comstock. They were pioneers that came from Wisconsin prior to Custer County Nebraska.

Bristol said research is one of the main assets to the museum. Due to a recent grant from the Custer County Foundation, numerous rolls of microfilm were purchased recently to help preserve the history of local Custer County newspapers. The museum also features an extensive display of Solomon D. Butcher photographs.

“We do a lot of research here, that’s the strength of this museum is research,” Bristol said.

Bristol said the next step is to start thinking about how to preserve the history of current and future generations.

A pie and ice cream social will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Custer County Museum on Friday, June 8 as part of the State of Art and Music Festival in Broken Bow, featuring the Good Living Tour. The museum is located at 445 South 9th Avenue. Summer hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Custer County Historical Society Board members display rolls of microfilm found in the research center at the museum
Former Senator Jim Jones presents check on behalf of the Eighmy Foundation

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