The Stuhr Museum will offer a visitor experience in ’22 | Grand Island Local News
The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer on Grand Island has big plans for 2022.
A priority for the museum is to provide the full experience visitors had before the limited coronavirus pandemic offerings from March 2020.
“It’s hard to imagine we’re here in 2022 because the last two years have been so full of COVID that I guess despite that we’ve been moving forward with various things and activities,” said museum director Chris Stuhr. Hochstetler. “It was quite impactful, I would say.”
The year began with two new features: the Glaciarium, an artificial ice rink, inaugurated in time for last winter, and the Stuhr Bistro.
From February to April, the museum’s annual Wings Over the Platte art exhibit celebrates the Sandhill Crane.
In 2022, Stuhr will focus more on the visitor experience, Hochstetler said.
“Some of the things we’re looking at right now include, what can we do with technology to improve the visitor experience in 2022?” he said. “Are there ways that we can really deliver, one of the things I suggested when I first came here, things like augmented reality and QR codes? Things like providing electronic resources on the campuses that will help guide people and help them engage with our exhibits on a deeper level.
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Hochstetler thinks Stuhr will invest more in technology.
“You’ll start to see a lot more of that on the pitch,” he said. “Things like, people can check out self-guided tour devices that will have a lot more information about certain exhibits or features of Stuhr. Things like, can we have certain areas of the terrain mapped so that we can use augmented reality to enhance the experience? »
More immersive activities are planned, notably at Stuhr’s Railroad Town.
“Over the past two years, it has been difficult to do that. Due to COVID, we had to cut some of our hands-on activities,” Hochstetler said. “We want it to really become an immersive experience based on the senses, based on things like smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing. I think we’re going to be a lot more intentional about this sensory experience in Railroad Town.
Hochstetler also wants to bring back activities not seen at Stuhr since the start of the pandemic, including family-friendly activities including history-inspired outdoor games.
“We specifically asked our interpretive staff to work with our education staff to develop games for our visitors to play Railroad Town as a family that would be historically accurate, it would be fun, but also help with tangible family memories of the Stuhr Museum and made them want to come back,” he said.
Similarly, Stuhr is reinventing its food service.
In addition to the new bistro and its ability to host high-end events, Stuhr wants to expand its dining experiences to Railroad Town.
“We’re going to integrate all of this food service into the Culinary Services department with the goal of really improving the quality of the food offerings we provide across campus,” Hochstetler said. “It’s things like takeout, items in Railroad Town that can be more nutritious, tastier, more exciting than the traditional hot dog and potato chips or popcorn.”
Stuhr’s food services could also draw inspiration from the story.
“One of the things I would like to try is that when our interpretation staff cooks at home, and they can cook something that was made at the time, we would have the same offer for the public to sample in our food service areas, so people can have a fuller experience,” Hochstetler said.
The Stuhr Arboretum is also getting a makeover.
“It was kind of a transition from the main building to Railroad Town,” Hochstetler said. “I would like to focus on this arboretum and say, ‘What kind of programming can we bring to the arboretum that will engage people? What kind of upgrades and cleanups can we make to the Arboretum that will make it an even better place to hang out in 2022? »
The Glaciarium is already a success for Stuhr.
“We have consistent attendance at the rink,” Hochstetler said. “We manage about 10 times the weekly attendance that we had the previous winter. I think it’s a combination of the Glaciarium and the programming that we do.
Hochstetler wants to expand the presence of the Glaciarium to provide more traditional holiday offerings in Stuhr, complete with a holiday market and lighting.
“I think we can concentrate that in the area where the Glaciarium is and give people a total vacation experience there, rather than just skating,” he said.
Through 2022, re-roofing and renovations begun in 2021 at Railroad Town will continue to better ensure these buildings remain intact.
A major restoration project will be Stuhr’s Taylor House.
“Our goal is to have this restoration roughly 90% complete by early summer,” Hochstetler said. “Taylor House should be one of those places that we can unveil this year as a new addition to Railroad Town for people to enjoy.”
Visitor experience is key to Stuhr’s success, Hochstetler said.
“The visitor is at the heart of what we do here,” he said, “and all the improvements we’re going to make in 2022 are really focused on the visitor and trying to give them the most complete experience possible. .”