- Associated Press - Thursday, August 28, 2014

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Attendance continues to climb at The Archway, a formerly bankrupt museum that spans Interstate 80 in the south-central Nebraska community of Kearney, an museum official said.

Since March, there has been higher attendance every month except for July, and August is looking good, marketing coordinator Jace Robinson told the Kearney Hub (http://bit.ly/1tO3u6R ).

The attendance in March was 15 percent higher than in March 2013, and April’s figure was 30 percent higher than the previous one.

The Archway has struggled with disappointing attendance since its opening. Nearly 250,000 people visited in 2001, but last year’s attendance was just under 50,000.

The Archway emerged from bankruptcy in September and reopened in March after settling more than $20 million in debt by paying $100,000 to bondholders, vendors and businesses.

The museum features exhibits that commemorate the Oregon, Mormon and California pioneer trails and that honor the nation’s highway systems and railroads. Many factors could have contributed to the rising attendance, Robinson said, including the opening of the Cherry Avenue exit off the interstate, which has eased access for visitors.

The Archway Society board is beginning to plan community events to be held on The Archway’s 90 acres, which include ponds, grasslands and a hike/bike trail.

Archway staffers have dream projects for the future, including a crane observation deck on the south tower, but Robinson said the current goal is much simpler: “Right now, we need to focus on making sure the building is holding up and it will continue to last.”

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Information from: Kearney Hub, http://www.kearneyhub.com/

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