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of Natural and Cultural History
J. M. McDonald
Walk through the front doors of the Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History and prepare to be amazed! After all, where else can you get up close and personal with a polar bear, browse through a realistic pioneer general store, see the country’s largest display of endangered whooping cranes in a natural diorama, experience life as a prehistoric man on the Central Plains, and make a rattlesnake sound its warning at your command?
The museum contains three floors with over 70,000 square feet of exhibit space including displays of North American mammals and birds; fossils, rocks and gemstones; antique cars; firearms; People of the Plains exhibit; antique personal items; a family Discovery Center; a coin room and an exhibit about the history of Kool-Aid®, which was invented in Hastings, to name just some of the wonders you can see at the museum.
Besides these fascinating exhibits that you can view everyday, this summer, the Hastings Museum will also host the traveling exhibit “Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth.” This interactive exhibit, created by the Children’s Museum of Houston, is based on the popular Scholastic book series and PBS television program. The lovable Ms. Frizzle and her young friends will lead visitors on the magical tour inside the earth’s surface where you can “mine” for minerals, dig and explore the Earth’s crust, study and classify rocks, investigate the forces of heat and pressure and even participate in a simulated volcanic eruption! “The Magic School Bus” opens June 22 in the East Gallery and will roll on out on September 16, 2001, so stop in today!
The Hastings Museum is also home to the Lied IMAX®
Theatre and the J. M. McDonald Planetarium where you can discover even more
about the earth and the universe! There’s
nothing quite like the experience of seeing an IMAX® film, where images five stories tall and 70-ft-wide fool your senses
into believing you’re actually part of the action. This summer, soar though the air with the
greatest basketball player of all time in “Michael Jordan to the Max,” which
airs several times daily March 13 through September 17, 2001.
Or, if underwater is more your scene, dive with a rainbow of fish during
the breathtaking “Great Barrier Reef,” which opens in the Lied IMAX® Theatre on June 4th and shows daily through December 3,
2001. The state-of-the-art J. M.
McDonald Planetarium offers daily sky shows, which are free with paid museum
admission or museum membership. This
summer, join us for “Night Lights,” which explores the effects of humanity
on our view of the heavens. “Night
Lights” opens in the planetarium on June 13th and runs through
September 3, 2001.
For advanced ticket purchases with Visa or MasterCard, or for more information on any of the exciting happenings at the Hastings Museum, please call (800) 508-IMAX (4629) or visit our website at www.hastings.net.com/museum. Come experience a WORLD OF WONDERS!
FISHER/RAINBOW FOUNTAIN - 12th and Denver Streets. Conceived by E. R. Howard for the electrical exposition in the 1932 Adams County Fair. Named after former Mayor Jacob Fisher, and for the colors of the rainbow, this colorful fountain is programmed to present a continuous display of dancing waters, illuminated by colorful spotlights. The fountain has been in its present site for over 50 years. In operation from Mother's Day to the Tuesday after Labor Day. Free Admission.
KOOL-AID DAYS- Hastings, the city known as "the birthplace of Kool-Aid", is celebrating the second annual Kool-Aid Days Festival on August 10-12, 2001 at 14th and Burlington, as well as at various other locations in the community. Along with the parade, Kool-Aid jingle contest, Kool-Aid games, farmers market, soap box derby, entertainment, Kool-Aid costume contest and evening street dance. There will be a state-sanctioned chili cookoff, bingo, antique, craft & collectibles show and food vendors. The Kool-Aid Man will make appearances throughout the day and everyone purchasing a commemorative Kool-Aid Days mug will receive free Kool-Aid all day.
RECREATION - For those who love the great outdoors, Hastings offers the Bill Smith Sportsplex that hosts local, regional, state and national softball tournaments plus soccer facilities. There are eighteen beautifully landscaped parks, three golf courses, ample tennis courts, swimming pools and lakes. The area is a hunter and fisherman's paradise. Plus every spring, the sky comes alive with the spectacle of migrating ducks, geese and sandhill cranes. Indoor recreational opportunities include: roller skating, roller hockey, bowling, go-carts, and indoor waterslides.
ART & CULTURE - Hastings has a long tradition of propagating cultural activities and organizations. Hastings is the only town in greater Nebraska with its own Symphony Orchestra. Hastings has a Community Theatre group that offers productions throughout the year in their own theatre with occasional large musicals presented in the Masonic Temple Theatre. The Community Concert Associations brings a variety of professional entertainers each year to the community. Hastings also boasts a County Historical Society, Men's Barbershop Quartets, art groups and shows, dance recitals, reading groups, craft clubs and square dancing.
Stuhr Museum - To catch a glimpse of pioneer life, particularly of the era when the railroad had just linked east and west, you should pause at a crossroad in time. There is a 200 acre complex, featuring two year-round exhibit buildings and a seasonal outdoor museum known as Railroad Town. The main building consists of modular exhibits in a bright, uncluttered atmosphere, introducing you to the 1860 - 1910 period of time. The first floor contains two galleries for rotating exhibits, museum shop and auditorium where you can view a short orientation film of the attractions. The second floor has exhibits of period rooms, tools, household articles and furnishings.
Just south of the main building, you will find the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda. This building houses the late civic leader's noted collection of Indian and Old West Memorabilia. These exhibits reflect the contrasting cultures of plains Indians and the early western settlers.
Southeast of the main building is Railroad Town, NE - a recreated prairie community that tells the story of town building and community development in Nebraska during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Sixty century-old shops, homes and other structures were moved to the site and restored. Three historic homes grace the town's residential area; included is the cottage where Henry Fonda was born in 1905 .
The Railyard Exhibit (Open May 1st through October 15th) is located on the east edge of Railroad Town on 7 acres. This area interprets the history of steam railroading and its importance to early Nebraska communities. Included is an 1890 depot, 1901 standard-gauge locomotive, 1908 narrow-gauge locomotive, plus miscellaneous standard and narrow-gauge rolling stock and equipment.
Following the railyard exhibit take a look at the 200 piece Antique Farm Machinery and Auto exhibit. Steam engines and a 1880 threshing machine are here to see plus numerous examples of horse and tractor-drawn farm implements. The early autos are fun to see and include a 1909 Model T, 1903 American and a 1913 Overland.
Don' t forget the Rural Communities that including structures from pioneer days. On your way back to the main entrance, pause for a quiet peaceful moment in the Arboretum area with its windmill, small lake, picnic area, flowers and trees of the Nebraska plains.
Shopping - Grand Island has evolved as one of the leading retail growth areas of the United States. The large number of stores, along with the unlimited variety of shopping opportunity, has made Grand Island the shopping mecca for South Central Nebraska.
Aurora is a unique and beautiful city known for its historic town square highlighted by the majestic red limestone courthouse and surrounded by vintage buildings with gift shops, stores and eating places. The city is also home to an excellent museum, Nebraska's Hands-On Science Center, great accommodations (motels and free camping facilities) and friendly people. Aurora is also known for its community involvement and philanthropy. A number of foundations have been established to benefit the community. These private dollars have been used to build most of the superb public facilities that adorn the community.
The Edgerton Explorit Center - Nebraska's Hands-On Science Center
This new science museum bears the name of one of Nebraska's most famous native sons, Dr. Harold "Doc" Edgerton, a scientist, educator, inventor and explorer. He is the inventor of the strobe light and high speed flash photography. His distinguished career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is renowned because of his charm, wit, determination and belief in hands-on learning and discovery. Students loved him, industry and the military sought his help and world explorers invited him on expeditions. "Doc" had a long and deep friendship with Jacques Cousteau, renowned oceanographer. The history of "Doc's" achievements, as well as some of the significant photographs like the milk drop and bullet through the apple are displayed in Strobe Alley, one of the exhibit halls at the Explorit Center.
The Explorit Zone gallery includes many hands-on exhibits that help visitors explore the world of science and technology. The exhibits change several times each year and help the visitor explore many different scientific fields. Special events and programs are constantly being offered, so call for the schedule of upcoming events and exhibits (see ad).
The Plainsman Museum - One of the finest history museums in Nebraska, the Plainsman tells the story of life on the plains for the past 150 years. Through murals, mosaics and exhibits the museum traces the region's history from prehistoric times to the Coronado Expedition to America and the early pioneer days of Nebraska and Hamilton County. The mosaics were designed by Wesley Huenefeld of Aurora, recipient of the 1997 Henry Fonda Award for contributions to tourism. The murals were done by local artist Ernie Ochsner who also has work on display at several other museums in Nebraska.
The Plainsman houses several period homes: an original log cabin (1859), sod house (the only soddie displayed indoors in Nebraska), turn of the century and Victorian homes as well as a prairie chapel and 13 shops from Main Street during pioneer days in Hamilton County. Other exhibits on display include an exceptional doll collection with over 1,200 dolls, clock and china displays, early 19th century firearms, antique autos, iron toys and military displays. The Plainsman hosts numerous traveling art and quilt shows and special events throughout the year. Call for a schedule of upcoming events.
Travel and Tour Information - The Aurora Chamber of Commerce produces a quarterly Calendar of Events and can provide current information on places to stay, shop and eat. This information is free of charge and may be obtained by calling 402-694-6911.