Starting in September, visitors to Lincoln won’t be able to see the Museum of Nebraska History with its exhibits chronicling the state’s founding and development.
The museum at 15th and P streets will close Sept. 1 in preparation for an $8 million renovation set to begin in October.
Paid for largely by state funds appropriated last year by the Legislature, the renovation includes replacement of the 1967-era building’s heating, air-conditioning and plumbing, as well as carpet and other finishes and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades, including accessible bathrooms.
Most visibly, the renovation will move the museum’s main entrance from the northeast corner to the center of its east side.
“The end effect will be a building that will serve museum functions and the people of the state for another 40 years,” said Michael Smith, CEO of the Nebraska State Historical Society, which oversees the museum.
Last year, the Legislature appropriated $6 million over three years for the renovation. The rest of the cost will be paid with cigarette taxes.
The State Building Division plans to seek bids for the project by June. Smith said he doesn’t know how long the project will take.
“It’ll depend on the progress of the renovation,” he said.
The last time the museum saw a significant renovation was in 1981 and 1982, although that work didn’t address heating or cooling systems. The new project will improve the building’s fire exits and energy efficiency.
Sinclair Hille Architects of Lincoln, Alley Poyner Macchietto of Omaha and Morrissey Engineering of Omaha are planning the work, Smith said.
“Some of these things aren’t fully fixed in stone yet,” he said.
He said most of the museum’s exhibits will have to be moved, but they won't leave the building.
“We won’t have to move collections out,” Smith said.
Exhibits showcase the lifestyles of tribes who roamed Nebraska before it became a state, early pioneers and those who built the state's primary institutions at the turn of the last century.
Each floor of the building will be affected.
“It will be a great advance for us,” he said. “It’ll be a lot of work to get there.”