Pioneer Village Looks to Increase Attendance - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Updated: Pioneer Village Looks to Increase Attendance

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Pioneer Village is a local site that takes you through time, showcasing the transformation of transportation through the years.

The museum used to be one of the more visited places in Nebraska. In the 1970s, around 150,000 people would flock to Pioneer Village annually. Fast-forward 40 years, and now Pioneer Village only sees 35,000 people through the door each year.

General Manager Marshall Nelson said they aren't alone; museums across the country are struggling.

"As the economy gets tighter and tighter, things you can cut out are things like eating out and going out on vacation; [they] are the first things you cut out," said Nelson.

Nelson believes that another contributing factor could be that a lot of visitors are on a fixed income, making it tough for people to afford the trip.

Pioneer Village has been around a long time and so have its facilities. The historic site allocates a portion of its funds towards maintenance of some buildings that are more than a 100 years old.

While the museum does not owe anyone money, they would like to see some help from the city.

"It would be wonderful if the community would come forward and step up as they did for the Minden Opera House; that was a phenomenal community investment. It be great if the community would embrace us as they did the opera house," said Nelson.

The Minden Opera House receives nearly $60,000 annually from grant sources and it also conducts annual fundraising efforts that generate around $40,000 in contributed income.

For now, Pioneer Village said they will focus on different marketing strategies.

The museum is looking to improve its efforts on social media to draw in new visitors. Nelson wants to remind people how important the place is to the community.

"We are a cornerstone of travel and tourism in Minden, also in state of Nebraska. We're unique in that perspective," said Nelson.

With more tourists, Nelson believes they could bring in more money for the city of Minden.

Pioneer Village prides itself on bringing a new experience each time a person visits, with a new exhibit added each year.

Currently, the museum is working on a model car display.


* This story has been corrected from a previous version that stated The Minden Opera House has received nearly $3 million in donations in recent years. They raised $2.7 million starting in 1997 for facility renovations.

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