Hidden Gems: Hastings Museum has all the answers

Cinmarron the red-tailed hawk spreads his wings Thursday morning as volunteers from Raptor Recovery Nebraska provide a presentation featuring birds of prey to children at Hastings Museum.

HASTINGS, Neb. — Want to know what the foot of a whooping crane looks like? What was Kool-Aid's original name? Can you tell the story of the Martin brothers and the Cheyenne Indian arrow?

The Hastings Museum has these answers and much more in its three levels of exhibits, interactive displays, planetarium and digital Super Screen.

See whooping cranes (with their feet) in Bird Dioramas on the upper level. You'll also find a serial collection of more than 200 Nebraska avian species. On the main level you'll see 150 more animal species in Wildlife Diorama Hall.

Hastings Museum

Location: 1330 N. Burlington Ave., the southeast corner of 14th Street and Burlington (U.S. Highway 281).

Hours: (will change Sept. 3) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Admission: $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and $5 for children. Combo tickets that include a 3-D movie also are available, as are membership, and group and movie-only rates.

Information: hastingsmuseum.org

Learn all about what started in Hastings as Fruit Smack in the “Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream” exhibit on the lower level. Children can run their own Kool-Aid stand while parents enjoy the product's commercials through the decades.

Lock, Stock & Barrel on the lower level is a history of weapons on the Plains. Drawers that pull out and flak jackets to try on offer a hands-on experience.

The exhibit features the Cheyenne arrow that pinned the Martin brothers together in an 1864 attack. Outdoors is a sculpture of the boys on horseback pinned by the arrow.

You'll also see ammunition manufactured during World War II at the Navy Ammunition Depot in Hastings.

“We're very much a museum that's staying current,” said Becky Tideman, marketing director.

Fairly new is the Cretaceous Sea exhibit, which displays aquatic creatures that swam through the area when dinosaurs ruled.

Sept. 28 will bring Crime and Punishment: Police Around the World. The opening of this exhibit will feature the dedication of the Martin brothers statue and a book-signing of “Some Escape, Some Don't” by Monty McCord.

A perennial favorite is the rattlesnake display. It lets those in the know scare the heebie-jeebies out of the unsuspecting.

“We like to say the rattlesnake was the first interactive in the building,” said Teresa Kreutzer-Hodson, curator of collections and program director.

The museum, founded in 1927, is the largest city museum between Denver and Chicago.

Email hidden gems to sue.truax@owh.com, or mail them to Hidden Gems, Omaha World-Herald Building, Suite 700, 1314 Douglas St., Omaha, NE 68102-1811.

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