Phelps County Historical Society and Nebraska Prairie Museum
|2701 Burlington St.
|9:00-5:00 M-F, 1:00-4:00 Sat and Sun
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|The Nebraska Prairie Museum has artifacts from the Phelps County area from 1000-year-old Native American pottery and bone and stone tools to precious possessions of the original Swedish settlers. The time line of exhibits include musical instruments, dishes and silverware, mannequins in period clothing arranged in period rooms decorated and furnished from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s and 60’s. The “Town Square” is a representation of the businesses and shops from the early 1900’s, set in an actual representation of a business district from downtown Holdrege. The museum’s 65,000 square feet of space is filled with fascinating collections of early toys (toy shop in the town square), furniture, kitchen and utility room appliances, tools, Model T and Model A cars, tractors, trucks, horse-drawn machinery and even a giant steam engine driven grain threshing outfit. The War Memorial area, featuring mannequins in uniforms of the U.S. military branches, tell the stories of our soldiers and airmen who willingly risked their lives to defend our country. The jewel of the museum is the POW Interpretive Center, which features a model of the POW Camp that was built just six miles from Holdrege in 1941-43. The population of the camp was greater than the population of the entire Phelps County. More than 4,000 German and Italian soldiers were housed in the camp, and the story of the prisoners’ experience is something of which our country should be proud. The prisoners’ art work, and the work of the interpreter at the camp, are on display in the center. A video interview of Thomas Naegele, interpreter, plays in the POW center theater daily. He tells of life in the camp, and the pictures he painted depicting that life. His paintings are on display in the POW art gallery.
The Nebraska Prairie Museum also has three buildings on the grounds: a farm house moved in from the Anderson farm north of the museum, a one-room school house, also moved in from the north, and a Lutheran Church from south Phelps County. The Anderson farm house is open for touring. The church is open and used for weddings and worship services. The one-room school house is also a popular visiting place, and is used in the spring for one day pioneer school experiences for fourth graders from local Phelps County schools. The bronze sculpture on the museum front lawn is called “Harvest Dreams.” The bronze was made by internationally known sculptor George Lundeen of Loveland, Colorado, George grew up in Holdrege.