- 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 (https://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.”

Werger has already fielded questions about displays or items that didn’t get transferred from the old area to the new area. Dividing walls are being placed within the new addition to make more displays possible.

Werger said volunteers, such as Delphine Anthony, take on specific tasks to help the museum. Anthony takes pictures to the Grand Generation Center to get help in identifying them. Sometimes a group comes into the museum, puts on white gloves and sorts through pictures while reminiscing.

“They’re giving us information we so badly need,” said Werger, noting the museum has many pictures that aren’t identified and aren’t in any order.

“I’ve always had a passion for history. I’ve always been interested in it,” Werger said.

She recalled noticing and asking about old houses or buildings as a young child. If they were neglected, Werger felt sad. Those were the beginnings of her desire to save and preserve pieces of the past.

“I really love preservation. I would love to be able to save a lot of old buildings,” she said. That tendency makes her excited about the project to restore Lexington’s Majestic Theatre.

Preserving artifacts and details of the past and having them available for people to see, experience and learn from is part of the purpose of a museum, she said. She hopes to continually draw people to the museum, to teach people of Dawson County about their history.

She said her grandmother, Florence Smith, now residing in Lincoln, was influential in her love of learning about the past.

Beginning Aug. 4 the museum will have an exhibit from MONA called, “Small Town Nebraska: Past-Time.” It is a prequel or introduction to a Smithsonian Institution exhibit called Home Town Teams that will be displayed November to December. The exhibits will feature a collection of items representing activities that brought towns together.

Simultaneously, Werger would like to have similar local items on display. With that goal in mind, she will work to gather things like pictures, equipment, uniforms and trophies representative of activities that brought camaraderie among people in Dawson County. “These aren’t things they (people) have to donate to the museum,” she said. The museum hopes to be able to borrow items to create a display.


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

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide