Archway Reopens, More Changes to Come - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Archway Reopens, More Changes to Come

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Officials say Saturday was a kind of kick-off for a new chapter at the nearly 14 year old museum that stretches across Interstate 80.

With some of its financial problems behind it, the Archway's leaders are focused on the future.

For staff members like re-enactor Beverly Williams, the two-month hiatus couldn't end soon enough.

"I kept saying I'm ready to go back to work, I'm ready to be with my coworkers and meet all the people coming in, it's a great place to be," says Williams.

After getting out of bankruptcy and working with the county and city on funding, the museum shut down for what officials say was some long-needed cleaning and repairs.

"Big step is just getting everything cleaned and getting it back to where we kind of originally envisioned it as the grandeur aspect of it," says Archway Marketing Coordinator Jace Robinson. "We're getting towards that, and when we get there , we've got long-term goals we really hope to meet."

That long-range planning includes attracting more visitors, but also getting active locally.

"We really hope that we can do a few things just close to home, just to make sure that we're doing what we can for Kearney and Buffalo County," says Robinson.

That's where "Archie" comes in – a buffalo that's the new mascot and symbol for the interstate attraction.

"We have a lot of great ideas for Archie, it's going to be family-friendly, a lot of it will be family-oriented, but we think he'll be a great spokesperson," says Robinson.

The Archway is also banking on a revamped gift shop filled with Nebraska and American-made products, and a theater featuring a short film about the Arch's construction will draw in new visitors and past guests for another look.

"We hope you can watch that and then as you're going through the Archway, the exhibit, that you'll get more of an understanding of just how incredible a building this really is," says Robinson.

Archway officials did not put a number on how many visitors they expected their first day back in action because they knew the weather would keep some people away. But they were pleased with a steady stream of people getting out of the cold and going through the museum.

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