On the blog, we have discussed industry and factory tours as ways to get the inside scoop on your local manufacturer. There’s no doubt that factory tours are an awesome way to find out more about manufacturing, and we highly recommend them– especially during the summer months when many families use the break from school as a chance for a much needed respite. If you’re looking for other ways to spend your summer, though, it’s important to keep the wealth of Nebraskan museums in mind. The museums and historical societies throughout the state celebrate our history, industry, and people, and are often free or inexpensive to visit.
You can find a full list of museums at Nebraskamuseums.org, but here are a few of our favorites that provide some insight into the history of manufacturing, technology, and agriculture in the state!
Kregel Windmill Factory Museum: You may have passed this museum as you drove along the interstate: It is conveniently located forty minutes from Omaha and Lincoln, and just 110 minutes from the Kansas City Metro area. Inside the one-story building, you’ll step back in time to enter what has been described as a time capsule of early 20th century shop-type manufacturing. From the overcoat on the hook to the pens and pencils on the desk, the building is a fine example of 1930s manufacturing, and that’s because it is the home of Kregel Windmills. The company created windmills that were truly pioneers in the use of renewable wind power; their windmills helped Nebraskans acquire fresh water for home consumption, livestock, and garden irrigation, all without the use of fossil fuels. The windmill factory itself closed in 1991, but in 1993, heirs of the Kregel estate donated the factory to the Kregel Windmill Museum. It’s worth a trip, especially for those interested in the history of machine manufacturing.
Lester F. Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum: This museum is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, so next time you’re in town, add it to your list! At the museum, learn about the history of tractor development, as well as the history of the Tractor Test. Established by Lester F. Larsen, the Tractor Test operates through the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory and since 1920 has tested over 2,000 tractors to determine their performance. You’ll learn about how and why the tractor test was created and how Lester F. Larsen influenced the development of agricultural technology and tractor manufacturing. You’ll also get a chance to examine early hand tools, draft farm animal implements, and early farming equipment that preceded the tractor.
Museum of American Speed: Interested in engines and have a need for speed? This Lincoln, Nebraska, museum is just the ticket. The 135,000 square foot museum was founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith to present a staggering collection of elements of racing and automotive history. From engines, to engine components to car accessories, model cars, and more, learn how engines have changed throughout the years and enjoy wandering through a curated collection of the most exciting aspects of automotive history.
Whichever museum you pick, take your time and spend a few hours wandering around and learning all there is to learn! Any outstanding Nebraska museums we missed? Leave them in the comments section below!