- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

LEXINGTON, Neb. (AP) - The new director of the Dawson County Historical Museum is excited for the opportunities to revive a museum as she reignites her passion for history.

“I don’t look at it as work. I look at it as ‘look what I can accomplish,’” Crystal Werger told the Kearney Hub (http://bit.ly/1yENQhn).

She says her love of history ultimately led to the decision to apply for a position that matched her educational background, but not her experience. She put a career on hold to marry and have two children and most recently worked for nine years as an assistant cook for Elwood Public Schools.

Werger began work at the museum June 3 and replaces John Woodward, who resigned to return to Wyoming to work for the Sheridan County Museum in Sheridan.

In addition to Werger, the Dawson County Historical Museum has two employees, Carol Nelson and Cheri Bergman, along with an intern, Brian Neben.

Werger attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln after graduating from Elmwood-Murdock High School in 1991. She majored in history and minored in art history, graduating from UNL in 1996. She said she was introduced to art history by a teacher in high school, which led to classes in college.

During her senior year in college, Werger did an internship at the Sheldon Art Gallery. She met influential people, including some affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, who encouraged her to further her education in museum studies. Werger seriously considered going on to graduate school, but decided on a different path.

“There was that moment of the fork in the road. I chose marriage and children, and I don’t regret that one bit,” she said.

Eventually she and her husband, Mike, who grew up in Eagle, moved to Elwood, and Werger focused on home and family. The couple have two sons, Caleb, 14, and Josh, 11.

Werger kept thoughts and desires toward history in the back of her mind. Recently the desires became stronger.

“I would really like to get back into history. Even if I volunteer, I need to get into that,” she said.

It was Mike who strongly encouraged Werger to put together a resume and apply for the Dawson County position after the couple saw a notice that the museum was looking for a new director.

Werger said she has three immediate areas of focus. She wants to familiarize herself with the museum’s collections, prepare for upcoming exhibits which were scheduled prior to her arrival and do yard work to make the museum’s green space more enticing.

Eventually she would like to see the project to turn the old gutted portion of the museum into something completed. The original plans were for gallery space and a conference area.

“That will come with time,” she said, noting plans are dependent on funding. “I’m bound and determined to develop that. That’s great space.”

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