- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska History Museum will reopen in Lincoln next month after an 18-month, $8 million renovation.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1PdOkzy ) reports that the museum will open April 1 after the building’s renovations are complete.

The project included replacing the 1960s-era building’s air conditioning, heating, plumbing and carpet. The building also had upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and its entrance was moved.

Museum Associate Director Ann Billesbach said the renovation has allowed staff to change the way it exhibits items. Instead of displaying the relics in a chronological method, staff now focuses on comparing the past to the present.

Those juxtapositions will be most apparent in a new exhibit at the museum called “Nebraska Unwrapped: Selections from the Collections.”

It features old farming tools, including a grasshopper plow that helped settlers break the sod in the 1870s and a 1,000-year-old hoe made from a bison scapula and ancient corn kernels.

Some of the other items include a head ornament of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, the sewing box that Frederick Douglass gave to former slave Ruth Cox and the hood worn by a Ku Klux Klansman.

“We don’t just have the happy stories,” Billesbach said.

The museum’s exterior will also get a facelift with the installation of an art project featuring 12 metal panels imprinted with images of artifacts on display in the museum.

The museum’s third floor won’t open for another year as workers continue renovations on that level. Billesbach said it will eventually feature a collection of landscape paintings as well as an exhibit seeking to define was it means to be a Nebraska resident.

She said that the renovation overall has opened up the museum by removing many barriers and walls.

“This will give us a chance to think about the core exhibits as a whole,” she said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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