By ANDREW HANSON
KEARNEY – Expanded hours and nearly $200,000 in ongoing renovations are part of the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture’s new rebranding initiative.
Located on the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s west campus, the museum now is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. It is closed on Mondays.
Rehabilitation work is underway on the museum’s second and third floors. The abatement of lead paint, ceiling repairs and plasterwork, along with woodwork restoration, are part of the overhaul.
“The renovations are going to allow us to become the kind of museum we want to be,” said Director William Stoutamire. “Part of the whole reinvention of the Frank House as the Frank Museum is an effort to share more stories and reach into new areas of local history and culture that we haven’t explored before.”
With the exception of restoring original stencil work through a student-led project, the first floor will remain the same, emphasizing the house museum aspect of the institution.
Part of the second floor is being restored to the way experts believe the building looked for 60 years when it was part of the Nebraska State Hospital for Tuberculosis. The museum will eventually feature an exhibit that tells the story of the tuberculosis hospital. The tuberculosis hospital opened in 1912 and remained open until 1973.
“This was an important building in that time, and it’s kind of a forgotten part of the house’s history, yet in some ways it’s the most important part of its story,” Stoutamire said.
The G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture was built as the private residence of George Frank, Sr. and his wife, Phoebe, in 1889. It was one of the first houses with electricity on the Great Plains and featured steam radiators and indoor plumbing.
The third floor, formerly the servants’ quarters, now serves as a collections space and will open to the public for the first time under the direction of a tour guide. While guides are offered for those wishing to visit the first and second floor, they are not required.
Restoration work is expected to be completed in the coming months, and Stoutamire said the new exhibits will be unveiled in the spring.
“We want to broaden the experience,” Stoutamire said. “We want people to come to the museum and not just have the single experience of walking through an old home, but also learn about the tuberculosis hospital and see an exhibit on local history or decorative art. We want to give people a reason to come back again.”
Frank Museum Hours
Tuesday through Friday: 1-5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Writer: Andrew Hanson, UNK Communications, 308.865.8454
Source: William Stoutamire, Frank Museum Director, 308-865-8284, firstname.lastname@example.org