The Durham Museum is an Omaha institution housed in the beautiful Union Station building. The museum has a permanent collection focused on the preserving the history of the region, and there are regular traveling exhibits. I enjoy visiting the museum with my kids to see the new exhibits, but also during Durham’s special annual events.
Disclosure: I am an blog ambassador for The Durham Museum. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Where is the Durham Museum?
The Durham Museum is located at 801 S. 10th St. in downtown Omaha, Neb. It’s just a few blocks south of the historic Old Market district. You an easily walk to the Old Market from the museum, though it may be just long enough for older kids to complain about it.
Parking is FREE at the museum, and plentiful. For some events, overflow parking can be found in the field to the east of the museum.
Do special events cost extra?
Most special events at The Durham Museum are included with regular museum admission and free for those with a membership. However, some evening events are ticketed.
There is also one unique event called Railroad Days, and since it is a multi-venue event, there is a pass that you must purchase that will get you into each venue, including The Durham Museum.
Related post: 20+ Museums In Omaha You Must Visit
Annual events you should go to at least once at Durham Museum
I’ve spend my fair share of holiday seasons at The Durham Museum – Christmas, Halloween, Railroad Days, you name it.
If you go to just one special event, I highly recommend going to the tree lighting ceremony in November. It officially kicks off Christmas at Union Station each year.
But, there are so many other unique annual events to attend! So, I made this list for you to experience my favorites. Unless I say otherwise, assume the event on this list are included with museum admission.
Halloween at The Durham Museum
Halloween is a lot of fun for all ages at The Durham Museum. There is a mix of all-ages and adults-only events.
If you go to one Halloween event, make it the annual Great Hall-oween Haunt. This annual evening event involves trick-or-treating with historical figures, a dance party, games and crafts.
The Great Hall-oween Haunt has already happened in 2019, so check back next October for 2020 details. Costumes are definitely encouraged.
In 2019, the museum expanded its Halloween offerings, though. So, since the Haunt has already happened, here are a few other activities.
- – Spooky Tales for Tots – On select Wednesdays, the museum includes a story time and crafts. It’s a drop-in event. The next one is Oct. 30 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
- – History Mystery – This ticketed event is on Oct. 24 and for those 21 and older. This event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and involves ghost stories, basement tours and a haunted train. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members (ticket includes one drink ticket). There is a cash bar, as well.
- – Hallo-weekend – On Oct. 26 and 27, kids (12 and younger) can come in costume and receive FREE admission. Look for the Haunted Train, Platform activities, trick-or-treating and dancing zombies throughout the day.
- – Durham After Dark – Enjoy a little creepier night experience for all ages at The Durham Museum on Oct. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. Enjoy spooky stories with Nebraska Story Arts, the Haunted Train, a dance party complete with glow sticks, a zombie flash mob and a scavenger hunt. Halloween costumes are optional.
Christmas at Union Station
Christmas at Union Station kicks off with the area’s largest indoor tree lighting celebration the day after Thanksgiving, and continues through the holiday season with family-friendly events like visits from Santa, concerts, the Ethnic Holiday Festival, the popular Noon Year’s Eve and many more.
When: Nov. 23 through early January 2020
Daily exhibits and things to see: You don’t have to visit on a special event date. If you go on an “off day,” you’ll enjoy fewer people while seeing the 40-foot tall decorated tree as well last the Holiday Cultural Trees Display.
There’s something planned weekly during the run of Christmas at Union Station! Here are the ones to see:
- – Tree lighting ceremony – Held the Friday after Thanksgiving, this annual event is spectacular (and extremely popular). In 2019, the event is Nov. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony involves caroling, a countdown and, usually, a surprise when the tree lights up.
- – A Log Cabin Christmas – Learn about Christmas from long ago and tour the log cabin in the museum.
- – Meet Santa and Holiday Concert Series – What’s better than meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus? Having live music! Meet Santa and the Holiday Concert Series are held at the same time each week. These run Nov. 30 through Dec. 22 and are held Tuesdays, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
- – Holiday Lights Festival Family Festival – During this festival, various venues are FREE to the public, including The Durham Museum. It can get very crowded. In 2019, the family festival is Dec. 1 from noon to 5 p.m.
- – Family Night With Santa – Have a late night and meet Santa at the museum on Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 5 to 8 p.m.
- – Holiday Culture Festival – See how other cultures celebrate Christmas and holidays around the world. This year, the event is Dec. 6 from 4 to 9 p.m.
- – Noon Year’s Eve – Celebrate the New Year early with an afternoon party. Noon Year’s Eve is Dec. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a huge balloon drop.
Summer special events at The Durham Museum
We love going to The Durham Museum in the summer, especially when you can combine a visit to a special exhibit (like dinosaurs!) and a special event. There’s even one event in the summer that involves a free sweet treat!
Here are the notable summer events you should attend:
- – Railroad Days – The Durham Museum is one of five participating venues during the fun weekend in July. The museum usually has kid-friendly activities as well as music and, of course, trains.
- – Wild Wild West Days – This is another July event, this time celebrating all things Wild West. There are a variety of kids’ activities like learning to lasso, as well as costumed actors who will act out an exciting shootout.
- – Root Beer Float Day – This one’s fun just because you get a FREE root beer floats at the soda fountain! Root Beer Float Day is in August each year.
Related post: Guide To Visiting The Durham Museum With Kids
Adult-only annual events at The Durham Museum
For most of the year, you’ll find great events for all ages, but there are some events that are great for the 21+ crowd. These adults-only events at The Durham Museum tend to occur in the first half of the year.
This year, I went with friends to a 1920s-themed event called Flappers & Fizz, where we had to solve a mystery and locate the hidden speakeasy inside the museum. It was a ton of fun and we loved being able to dress up!
That sort of event is ticketed and if you’re a member, you receive a discount on tickets. Since it’s a museum, I feel pretty good about spending extra on tickets knowing that it helps support the museum’s mission.