November 15, 2019

An Omaha Tradition: Christmas At Union Station

Omaha is the best-kept secret when it comes to magical holiday decorations and events. For something truly special — and indoors — plan a visit to The Durham Museum during the holiday season. The annual celebration, “Christmas at Union Station,” begins every year the day after Thanksgiving.

Disclosure: I am a blogger ambassador for The Durham Museum. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

An Omaha holiday tradition: Celebrating Christmas at Union Station - Not only see the largest indoor Christmas tree in Omaha at The Durham Museum, there are weeks of holiday festivities to attend, as well. Get details on events like the tree lighting ceremony, Cultural Holiday Festival, and Noon Year's Eve. You'll want to check this museum out if you're planning a visit to downtown Omaha during the holidays! #Omaha #Nebraska #holidays #events #guide

Before I get into all the Christmas events and Santa sightings happening at the museum, here’s a quick Durham Museum 101 for those who need it. If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to read this family guide to the museum.

Where is The Durham Museum?

The Durham Museum is located in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Situated in the iconic Union Station building, the museum has retained the charm of a bygone era.

It’s a walkable distance from the Old Market. The exact address is 801 S. 10th St.

Dining at The Durham Museum

The Durham Museum has an old-fashioned soda fountain and candy shop, where you can purchase everything from snacks to actual meals.

The soda fountain at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha.

My family is a fan of getting ice cream sundaes there, but you might want to also try getting a float or a phosphate.

Of course, popcorn is also a good choice.

The food prices are pretty reasonable at the museum, and museum members receive a 10% discount on the food.

However, if you want to eat elsewhere, the museum is near a lot of great restaurants. The closest restaurants include two pizzerias: Orsi’s (Omaha’s oldest restaurant) and Via Farina (upscale wood-fired pizzas).

There are a lot of great family-friendly restaurants in the Old Market if pizza isn’t what you’re looking for.

Is parking free at The Durham?

Yes. The museum has an upper lot and a lower lot. During busy events, especially the tree lighting, you may find that both lots will fill pretty quickly.

During select events overflow parking, with shuttle drop-off at the museum, is available at the Conagra Brands parking lot, Seventh and Leavenworth streets. Otherwise, you’ll find a mix of metered and free parking in nearby neighborhood streets.

The largest indoor tree in the area

The tree at the museum is real and it is ginormous. It’s decorated with large ornaments that kids love seeing up close.

A crowd around the Christmas tree during Christmas at Union Station at The Durham Museum.

Also, Santa and Mrs. Claus are at this tree lighting event, with the tree serving as a cool backdrop to your photos. Expect a long wait, but kids usually get a present after talking with the big guy.

And, in my opinion, this Santa looks like the real deal.

Christmas at Union Station exhibits & events

Durham Tree Lighting Ceremony

Every year, the museum holds a popular tree lighting ceremony with lots of kid-friendly activities planned throughout the museum before the big countdown. I have vivid memories of caroling with a thousand other people right before the countdown. It’s amazing.

The tree lighting ceremony is always held the day after Thanksgiving. In 2019, it’s held Nov. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 7 p.m.

Tip: I’ve attended the tree lighting a few times. It’s extremely popular — and crowded. I recommend designating one adult in your group to claim a spot near the tree about 30 minutes prior to the countdown.

Related post: Everything You Need To Know About Durham Museum Annual Events

Santa at The Durham

The Durham Museum has several scheduled appearances by Santa during Christmas at Union Station each year.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

In addition to the following times, Santa will be visiting during the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Holiday Cultural Festival, too:

• -Saturdays, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• -Sundays, Dec. 1-22, 1 to 4 p.m.

• -Tuesdays, Dec. 3, 10 & 17 5 to 8 p.m. The museum stays open late on Tuesdays, so they’ve planned fun nights of holiday crafts, live music and of course, the man of the hour, Santa.

Ethnic Holiday Trees Exhibit

Holiday Cultural Trees display at The Durham Museum in Omaha.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

While the big tree tends to steal the spotlight, you should seek out another annual exhibit trees (of the miniature kind). The Holiday Cultural Trees Display showcases how cultures from around the world celebrate the Christmas season. It’s on display from Nov. 29 through Jan. 5, 2020.

This is one of those exhibits that adults like way more than kids. We were lucky to get a cursory glance from my son, and my youngest didn’t even pause to notice the room.

Log Cabin Christmas

The museum’s historic log cabin is decorated for Christmas and during the scheduled times Log Cabin Christmas, a docent will be present to show guests the cabin and share pioneer holiday traditions.

When: Nov. 30 through Dec. 29

  • -Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • -Sundays, 1 to 3 p.m.

Holiday Cultural Festival

A dancer at the Holiday Cultural Festival held each year during Christmas at Union Station in Omaha.
Photo Courtesy The Durham Museum

Held Dec. 6, from 4 to 9 p.m., the Holiday Cultural Festival features local cultural organizations proudly displaying their crafts and traditional dress, while musicians and dancers perform throughout the evening.

I’m excited that one I’m involved with, Omaha Sister Cities Association, is one of those participating groups!

The festival is a good time to buy hard-to-find ethnic foods and gifts you know your grandma will love.

Holiday Concert Series

You can hear holiday music performed live by local entertainers, school musicians, and choirs each weekend during Christmas at Union Station, as well as on Tuesday evenings. Performances are by different groups at different times.

Choir singing by the Christmas tree at The Durham Museum.
Photo courtesy The Durham Museum

2019 Holiday Concert Series Schedule

When: Nov. 30 through Dec. 22

  • -Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • -Sundays, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
  • -Tuesdays, 5 to 8 p.m.

Want to check who’s performing? Click here.

Noon Year’s Eve

Celebrate 2020 early with an afternoon party on Dec. 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There’s live music, crafts, and activities, culminating in a celebratory bubble wrap stomp and balloon drop at noon.

Visitor information for The Durham Museum

If you’re planning your first visit to The Durham Museum during Christmas at Union Station, here’s are a few details you’ll probably want to know about:

The Durham Museum

Where: 801 S. 10th St.

Hours: Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; also closed Nov. 22). During holiday hours beginning Dec. 2, when the museum will also be open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Adults, $11; seniors (62+), $8; children (ages 3 – 12), $7; and FREE for children 2 years and under and members.

Tip: Throughout the holiday season, you can drop off non-perishable food items at The Durham for the Food Bank for the Heartland in support of ConAgra Foods’ Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.

Everything you need to know about the Omaha tradition: Christmas at Union Station, held annually at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha. This historic Nebraska museum has events for the entire family, including Santa visits, live music, and the Cultural Holiday Festival. #Omaha #Nebraska #Museum #Christmas #Holidays #Midwest

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October 22, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About Durham Museum Annual Events

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.

If you're planning a trip to Omaha, one museum to visit is The Durham Museum. Depending on the time of year, a visit could time out for a unique experience. Here are the don't miss annual events held at The Durham Museum. #Omaha #Nebraska #Museums #OmahaEvents

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.

The Durham Museum is housed in the Union Station building in downtown Omaha. The interior of the building features Art Deco designs.

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.

Kids can trick-or-treat at The Durham Museum at special events in October.

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

Indoor Christmas tree at The Durham Museum in Omaha

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!

Root Beer Float Day is an annual event each August at The Durham Museum in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

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.

My Flappers & Fizz costume for an adults-only event at The Durham Museum in Omaha.

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.

The Durham Museum is in a landmark building in Omaha, Nebraska. In addition to permanent exhibits and unique traveling exhibits, the museum holds several fun events each year. Here are the must-try special events at The Durham Museum. Most of the museum events on this list are great for families! #Omaha #Nebraska #FamilyTravel #FamilyTime #Christmas

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June 18, 2019

What’s At The Durham Museum This Summer

Every year, I wait with anticipation to hear what’s the summer exhibit at The Durham Museum. Without fail, they’ve opened a fun temporary exhibit that my kids (and I) enjoy. This year, the summer exhibit is called “Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family.” The exhibit runs through Sept. 1, 2019.

Looking for fun things to do in Omaha this summer? Check out the summer exhibit at The Durham Museum - "Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family"! Get details on the exhibit, when to see, and the kids activities inspired by the exhibit. #Omaha #Nebraska #museums

Disclosure: I have a partnership with The Durham Museum. I was not paid to write this post, but I do receive a complimentary membership in order to visit and write about the exhibits. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

About the Durham Museum summer exhibit

As the name implies, “Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family” is about the Tyrannosaurs and the various prehistoric creatures that are classified under that name. It’s not just T.rex, it turns out.

Things to know about The Durham Museum summer exhibit about Tyrannosaurs - The exhibit is a mix of specimens and fossil casts along with interactive screens.

The most fun my whole family had at the exhibit was learning about the family tree by playing the interactive game table. After about three or four rounds, we declared ourselves experts of in the entire Tyrannosaur family tree.

I can see us returning a few times this summer so my kids can try to beat their previous top time on the game.

Things kids love about the Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family exhibit - The interactive family tree is a popular game for kids and even adults.

The exhibit uses both technology and dinosaur specimens. My kids were drawn more to the tech than the casts and models of dinosaurs.

One of the more amusing pieces in the exhibit was the interactive augmented reality screen. We watched as life-sized dinosaurs roamed nearby.

My kids may or may not have tried to kick the dinosaurs. Sorry about that!

Interactive things to do in the summer exhibit at The Durham Museum - The augmented reality screen puts you in a scene with life-sized dinosaurs.

Other multimedia experiences and touch screen interactive were interspersed by exhibit pieces, and their were large-scale projections at the exhibit entrance. The projections feature Omaha streetscapes and dinosaurs roaming them.

My son was particularly interested in the interactive piece comparing his strength to that of a T.rex.

The life-sized dinosaur specimens included five complete tyrannosaurs cast skeletons.

The ‘Big’ draw of the exhibit

“Scotty,” the largest and oldest T.rex ever discovered, is a part of this exhibit. Well, the exhibit doesn’t have THE “Scotty.” One of only four casts of the T.rex skeleton is included in this exhibit.

The cast of "Scotty," the largest and oldest T.rex ever discovered, is part of the Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family exhibition at The Durham Museum through Sept. 1, 2019.

It’s an impressive sight, putting the scale of what T.rex was like millions of years ago into perspective.

Another interesting thing to check out in the exhibit is the feathery Guanlong wucaii. This newly-discovered dinosaur is a relative of the T.rex.

It’s easy to walk right past the bird-like dinosaur, though. There’s a big screen nearby that will easily distract you and the kids.

Things to know about the Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family exhibition - The traveling exhibit has a newly-discovered Guanlong wucaii display.

Things to know about visiting the Durham in the summer

The Durham Museum experiences an uptick in visitors in the summer, but you don’t have to be too strategic about when to visit. Why? It’s a huge museum. You won’t feel the crowd.

Things to know about visiting The Durham Museum in the summer - The museum is housed in Omaha's former Union Station, so it's spacious. Summer crowds aren't usually noticed due to its size.

You may feel the crowd, however, in the special exhibit space. Consider going first thing in the morning or at the last hour or two of the day.

We visited about an hour after the museum opened on a Saturday and didn’t have to jockey for position at any interactive exhibit piece. However, once a tour group walked into the exhibit, it did start to feel a little more packed.

If you want more tips for visiting The Durham Museum, especially if you’re bringing children with you, visit this guide to exploring the museum with kids!

Summer exhibit special events

The good thing to know about summers at the museum is that there are usually extra events planned in coordination with the summer exhibit. “Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family” has a few great ones including some for kids and adults.

Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family - The 2019 summer exhibit at The Durham Museum has special events planned throughout the exhibit's run.

For kids: Storytime with Scotty is held every Wednesday through July 31 at 10:30 a.m. Each week features a different dinosaur-themed book and craft led by one of the museum’s engaging education facilitators. Registration is not required and regular museum admission applies. All ages are welcome.

For adults: Dinos and Daiquiris is June 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. Search for hidden “fossils” around the museum to win a prize, and sip on a daiquiri, enjoy the cash bar or visit the Soda Fountain for some snacks and sweet treats. Tickets are $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers, and with the ticket you get admission to the museum after hours and one drink ticket.

For everyone: There are daily tours at 2 p.m. until the close of the exhibit. Each day of the week will have a different topic, complete with trivia and prizes.

Fossil Fridays include crafts, games, guided tours, giveaways from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Aug. 9. The crafts and giveaways are from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and there’s a dino-themed game at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Back-to-School Bash is Aug. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m. There will be a dino movie on the big screen, a bounce house, and kids can get their faces painted like a dinosaur. There will also be a food truck. This event is included with museum admission and free for members, but reservations are required.

Planning a trip to Omaha this summer? See what special exhibit is on display at The Durham Museum! In the summer of 2019, the exhibit is "Tyrannosaurs: Meet The Family." Get the scoop on special events planned for the exhibit plus what things kids will like there. #Omaha #Nebraska #FamilyTravel

If you go

The Durham Museum

Where: 801 S. 10th St., Omaha

When: Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (during the summer, the museum is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.); Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Closed major holidays.

Cost: Adults, $11; Seniors (62+), $8; Children (ages 3 – 12), $7; children 2 years and under, FREE; Members, FREE.

A note on memberships: If you’re going to visit the Durham Museum more than once a year, it pays to get a family membership. It’s $60 for 12 months, and includes admission to the special events like the Great Halloween Haunt and all the Christmas festivities. It also gets you discounts to the gift shop, soda fountain and summer camps.

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April 6, 2018

‘American Adventure’ Guide For Families

The description of “American Adventure,” the temporary exhibit at The Durham Museum,” reads like it would go over the heads of most kids: Minotaur Mazes’ ‘American Adventure’ takes visitors on an immersive, educational roleplay adventure that asks people to conquer one great challenge: survive the year as one of the original
Jamestown colonists.”

I tried out this maze with my two kids, ages 6 an 8, and here’s how what we thought of the experience. If you want to visit “American Adventure,” the exhibit runs through July 29, 2018. Be sure to check out the rest of the museum while there! Here’s my guide to taking children to The Durham MuseumDisclosure: I was provided complimentary passes to experience the exhibit so I could write about it.

What to expect during “American Adventure”

An overhead view of “American Adventure.” The traveling exhibit is at The Durham Museum in Omaha through July 29, 2018. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Like a typical maze, there is only one way to enter. At the entrance, we each received our unique identity of one the Jamestown colonists. These were real colonists (all men) and at the end of the maze, we could check if they survived that first year or not.

Each colonist has a life chart, and as we move through the maze, we each track a series of life choices on an it. You can earn (or lose) points for health, wealth, food and morale at each turn of the maze. Watch out for the Wheel of Misfortune!

The goal is to make it past more than two-dozen tests spread out over four seasons. Tests range from trying to rope a sturgeon and guessing whether or not you can eat an animal, to more historically significant questions, like if you’re a gentleman, do you really help with manual labor or not. Keep all four life chart categories above the life line and you “survive.” Choose poorly and you have to exit the maze.

What kids think of “American Adventure”

The physical challenges in the “American Adventure” were my kids’ favorites.

There are plenty of things for my kids to like about the exhibit, “American Adventure,” and a few things that they didn’t. The physical challenges, pretending to climb was high up there and getting a Food point just for scraping a turtle shell were fun things for them.

What’s difficult, especially for my 6-year-old, was that most challenges required some reading. If your child isn’t patient, you may have to skip reading most of the things and go right to the challenge. It misses the educational component of the exhibit, but keeps the fun going for the kid.

Also note that the younger the kid, the more help they’ll need tracking their life chart.

Some challenges required reading, which my youngest didn’t have patience for, though most were self-explanatory. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

If your kids are competitive, they may also get frustrated with how easy it is to fail at “American Adventure.” The odds of survival are stacked against you. One accidental snakebite or bad food choice, and you’re dead.

Tips for “American Adventure”

Not many exhibits have mini ziplines, but “American Adventure” does. Photo courtesy Durham Museum

Visit during non-peak hours. This is a popular exhibit and since it’s a maze, you may have groups in front of you or behind you. If you don’t feel like rushing through your reading, I recommend going during the week instead of on the weekend.

Go to the bathroom before starting the maze. Self-explanatory, especially if you’re visiting with kids.

See the rest of the exhibit. It’s tempting to finish the maze, get your “I survived” sticker, and then head out. However, there’s more to “American Adventure” than the maze. There are displays of items found at the original James Fort of Historic Jamestown as well as original documents. There’s also a building activity table and a fun photo opp.

Plan about an hour for the exhibit. You can rush through it quicker, sure, but if you’re there to learn about about what it took to start a colony in the New World, read some of the displays. Also, realize if your colonist dies early and you have to exit the maze, you can start all over again.

Learn more. There are three lectures scheduled tied to the exhibit: “Surviving Jamestown: The Harrowing First Years of a Founding American Community,” April 17 at 6:30 p.m.; “The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America,” May 8 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow); and “Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma,” July 24 at 6:30 p.m. (book-signing to follow). Registration is required. Regular museum admission applies; free for members.

If you go

“American Adventure”

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

When: Now through July 29, 2018

Cost: Included with museum admission


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October 9, 2017

Zoom Into Nano Now In Omaha

The Durham Museum just opened the newest kid-friendly exhibit in Omaha, “Zoom Into Nano,” and I took my two kids, ages 6 and 7, to see it. Could something like nano be explained to children, I wondered. Could it be explained to me?



Let me explain.

By the way, if you haven’t been to this museum before, here’s my guide for visiting the Durham Museum with kids. I was not compensated to write this post; I was, however, provided complimentary passes for myself and to use for the giveaway.

What to expect at Zoom Into Nano

If you’re wondering what nanotechnology is, you’re not alone. It’s technology that deals with “dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometers, especially the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.” (dictionary definition)

A model carbon nanotube inside “Zoom Into Nano,” now in Omaha through Jan. 7, 2018.

Or more simply, it’s technology dealing with things on the smallest of small scales. Nano stuff.

This exhibit demonstrates nano in surprisingly simple ways.

Like magnification. There are a few stations that simply help kids (and adults) see everyday things like a butterfly wing or a speck of dust in super, crazy magnification. My kids returned to these “zooming” stations throughout our visit.

Everything in the exhibit is hands-on, which is a kid’s dream. Even my youngest enjoyed practicing with an atom transporter.

I’m sure moving atoms is a lot more difficult than moving these “atoms.”

The three us worked together to dissolve salt crystals (virtually) by generating heat through arm movement.

Is this really a kid-friendly exhibit?

This definitely has the look and feel of an exhibit that’s intended to be enjoyed by families.

Kids can design a model nano town, making sure things are balanced or their surface will tip in one direction.

Really young kids, like toddlers, probably won’t get a whole lot out of the exhibit, though. Maybe, they’ll enjoy some of the molecule building stations or the nano town balance table.

Older kids? Yes, this exhibit is going to be great for them, especially preteens and teens learning about this stuff already.

Magnets are always a hit in an exhibit, and this table was particularly effective at explaining how the smaller the material, the easier it was to move.

My two kids are early grader schoolers and were able to engage with all of the exhibit pieces. One could read and the other could not, so the reader definitely had a fuller experiences.

The room not to miss

There’s a small room at the back of the exhibit that is easy to skip, but probably does the best job at explaining what nanotechonology matters to us. Because, even after playing with all the different exhibit pieces, I was kinda wondering still what nanotechonology was and why it’s so significant (my son would tell me just to read the signs better, but he’s a know-it-all).

Anyway, in this little room, there are a few displays that break it down to layman’s terms, the breakthroughs that nanotechnology has already (waterproof clothes, for instance), and why some people are optimistic and some people are cautious about what the future holds.


If you go

“Zoom Into Nano”

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

When: Now through Jan. 7, 2018

Cost: Included with museum admission, which is $11, adults; $8, seniors; $7, children (ages 3-12); and FREE for children younger than 3 and members



Want to go for FREE?

I’ve partnered The Durham Museum to give away one family pass to one lucky reader. This pass will get up to four people into the museum! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form. Must be at least 18 to enter. The giveaway ends Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m. One winner will be randomly drawn within 48 hours and will have 48 hours to claim the prize before another name is drawn. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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June 14, 2017

Kids & The Durham Museum’s ‘Top Secret’ Exhibit

We’re at the Durham Museum often because it’s a fun place to take kids (here’s my guide for bringing kids to the Durham Museum). Every new temporary exhibit is a great excuse to return. This summer, there’s an exhibit unlike any other we’ve seen called “Top Secret: License to Spy.”

I was invited to check out the exhibit with my kids so I can report back to you about the experience.

Think you have what it takes to be a secret agent? Head to the Durham Museum this summer and visit “Top Secret: License to Spy.”

Wondering if “Top Secret” is kid-friendly?

Wondering if a family can easily solve the case?

Read on!


The Concept Behind “Top Secret: License to Spy”

Top Secret at Durham Museum

Spy gadgets! This room’s challenge was tough for my little ones (you had to find the four hidden cameras). Photo courtesy Durham Museum

The concept of this summer exhibit is brilliant: Visitors take on the role as spies, and as you move through the exhibit, you use different spy equipment or techniques to gather clues to solve the case. You’re supposed to figure out who stole the most powerful computer chip in the world and why.

When you complete the mission, you go to the final stop, the Debriefing Room, to see if you were right.


Into the exhibit

Instructions for one of the areas in the “Top Secret” exhibit at The Durham. In case you were wondering, it’s a lot harder than it looks to spy on someone with a laser listener.

“Top Secret: License to Spy” sounds like a fun exhibit for families, and it is, but it’s not for all ages. Why? Little ones who can’t read or who get spooked by dim lighting may not enjoy it as much as older kids.

My 5-year-old was easily frustrated with challenges and started to get anxious at every turn. Perhaps it seemed too real for her?

She most definitely did not like the looks of the laser room. Even when I showed her how to do it, she refused to go in there thinking they were real lasers (full disclosure: It was more like I showed her how not to do it. I’m not flexible at all).

In “Top Secret” at the Durham Museum, you can pretend to be a spy and try to make your way through a room of lasers. Photo courtesy the Durham Museum

My 7-year-old wanted to try everything in this exhibit. Sometimes he needed my help or subtle nudge on noticing a clue; other times, he was on it. I think the older the kid, the more they’re going to love this.

Just based on my observation, it looked like the Code Room was the most popular area in the entire exhibit. It was packed when we went in. There are several codes to break in that one room, and each provide a little clue to who the suspect is.

Every kid visiting the exhibit seemed to want to be in the Code Room at the same time. It’s understandable, these codes were fun to try to crack.

The most popular area in the exhibit for my family didn’t actually help us solve the case, but it did help us craft some awesome disguises.

My son’s spy disguise is top notch.

By the way, I totally solved the case. I’d make an excellent secret agent.

For the little ones

“Top Secret: License to Spy” can be a little challenging for youngsters, so there are a few activities that are more of their speed. Plan your visit to be around 10:30 a.m. on the second or fourth Wednesday of the month (June-August), and your little one can enjoy Top Secret For Tots. The program includes a story and craft, and it’s included with museum admission.

Pick up a scavenger hunt from the information desk in the Durham Museum lobby, then see if you can find the clues.

There’s also a fun scavenger hunt going on this summer. Pick up a sheet and pencil at the welcome desk to get started. The hunt will lead you through some of the permanent exhibits to search for clues.

This one was more of my kids’ speed and they knew the exhibits we needed to go to based on the clues. I had to help decipher the code.

Once finished, the kids returned their sheet to the welcome desk to get their surprise.

If you go

“Top Secret: License to Spy”

Where: The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.

When: Now through Sept. 17, 2017; during regular museum hours

Special events: There are special programs planned through the exhibit’s run. Visit this page to learn more.



Disclosure: I was provided complimentary admission to the museum so I could review this exhibit. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.