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Stuhr Museum adapting to fluid pandemic

Annual events face changes, cancellations as staff grapples with societal changes
Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 8:34 AM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Right when businesses, organizations and other institutions may feel as though they’ve settled in and are comfortable with where they’re positioned as it relates to the pandemic, things change.

With cases of COVID-19 once again on the rise in Central Nebraska, the staff at Stuhr Museum is sitting down and asking the same questions it asked nearly eight months ago. Questions such as “how can we continue to deliver our message, how can we stay relevant and bring people through the doors and what will our events look like?”

“It’s critical to us because without that attendance and engagement we can’t deliver our mission and that’s what we exist to do," Chris Hochstetler, the Executive Director at Stuhr Museum, said. "That mission delivery is really what drives revenue as well, resources and our impact in the community and in the state.”

Stuhr Museum’s Fourth of July event was one annual event that was fortunate enough to take place although it had major changes. All Hallows Eve, the museum’s annual Halloween event also took place with minor changes. Now, as Christmas is just over a month away, Stuhr Museum has already cancelled its infamous North Pole Express. Meanwhile, the Fantasy of Trees exhibit is scheduled to still go up - although less an event than a display.

For the staff at the museum, it’s important to get people through the door and engaged with the content and experience at Stuhr Museum. Adapting to the changing climate of society is a tricky part of the job.

“We closed to the public so that we could start to examine really what are the precautions we can take to actually continue programming," Hochstetler said, when discussing the museum’s initial response to COVID-19. "We went though an extensive process on the front side of this when very little was known about this virus of how can we actually conduct business safely with people.”

Hochstetler is not shy about expressing his gratitude toward the people in Hall County, Nebraskans and out-of-state visitors when discussing the museum’s time open during the pandemic. He also adds that there will be a few pleasant days during winter in which he believes Stuhr will be able to get people to the grounds, outside and in Railroad Town.

Continuous updates to Stuhr’s events and status, as well as hours and COVID-19 updates can be found on the museum’s website.

The museum is also accepting registration for the Fantasy of Trees right now. You can do so here.

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