The Durham Museum
• 801 South 10th Street (on the 10th Street Bridge), Omaha, Nebraska
• Hours: Tuesdays: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays & Major Holidays
• Admission: Adults: $7, Seniors (62+): $6, Children (3-12): $5, Members & children 2 & under are free.
• Most parts of the museum and exhibits are stroller-friendly & handicap accessible. There are a few exceptions.
• Free parking at the adjacent parking garage
When I was growing up, it was called The Western Heritage Museum. I remember going there with my fellow students once or twice on field trips. My mom said that her family went there when it was still a train station (Union Station) a LOONG time ago to wait for her brother to arrive back from the war (World War II). Then, it was the Durham Western Heritage Museum. Now, it is just the Durham Museum. The Durhams must have given a LOT of money. Their name is over a lot of other buildings in the Omaha area, too, I’ve noticed. Anyway, back to the museum.
We didn’t spend much time upstairs in the old waiting room area. We didn’t visit the old-fashion soda fountain. We went downstairs to see the real train cars on the Harriman Track level. We were able to walk through lounge cars, a pullman (where the kids climbed up on a pulled-down bed), see the steam engine (with a bit of coal still in the attached coal car), and caboose. They each got mock tickets that could be punched to show where you were going, when you were traveling, and how much you paid for it.
There was an Amazon rain forest temporary exhibit going on in the Velde Gallery of American History. The kids loved this section as there was a snake they could pick up, a place where they could pretend to be in the water with fish through a bubble dome, dress up like a fish and do an interpretive dance, and various interactive exhibits about life in the Amazon area or types of wild life there. (It made me shiver a bit, but the kids liked them.)
From here, we went past the “Educational Classrooms.” These included a model of an old one-room schoolhouse, a one-room log cabin from Little House on the Prairie days, among other things. There were exhibits on family life in Omaha from the 1800s to today. There was a section on the history of Omaha through architecture, education, religion, immigration, parks, and the arts.
There was a glassed-in 100-foot-long O-scale model train layout representing Union Pacific’s double track main line from Omaha to Ogden, Utah during the 1950s. Thomas the Engine was actively pulling a few cars around and around the track. The two-year-old was on tip-toes watching it go around over and over again.
We zipped through in just a couple of hours, but could have spent much longer. Definitely worth a trip back. I wish I would have been able to go a year or two ago when they had a ‘fashion in the movies’ exhibit. They had the costume worn by Drew Barrymore in the movie “Ever After.” What an amazing exhibit that would have been to see!
If you are in this neck of the woods, this is a great museum to visit.
This concludes the five part series on attractions featured as part of Omaha’s Railroad Days. To read more by this guest author, visit “Learning As I Go.” Thanks to minnemom for the opportunity to share our adventures!