City commissioners approved $16,000 Monday for the Nebraska City museum pass program as attractions recover from the Missouri River flooding of 2011.
Stephanie Shrader, representing the city's LB840 committee, told commissioners that the contribution provides $2,000 to each museum. It is $2,000 higher this year because of the addition of the Kregel Windmill Factory Museum.
The pass allows Nebraska City residents to visit museums April 30 to Oct. 15 without charge.
The attractions averaged nearly 20,000 visitors in each of the first two years of the pass program, but the totals dropped to 13,658 in the flood year of 2011.
Brian Volkmer of the Nebraska City Museum Alliance said visits began to pick back up when Interstate 29 opened in late September, but the damage had already been done in the four months it was closed.
“When the flood hit, it basically put Nebraska City on an island. Visitation just trickled in,” Volkmer said.
There were 6,862 fewer visitors in 2011 compared to the prior year, but visitation at the Freighters Museum and Civil War Veterans Museum did not decline.
Volkmer said he had hoped for more activity in 2012.
He said while visitors from Omaha, Lincoln and Topeka are encouraging, people are making fewer long road trips.
Visitations reported in 2012
- Lewis & Clark, 9,037
- Mayhew Cabin, 3,895
- Wildwood House, 1,032
- Civil War, 954
- Firefighters Museum, 808
- Nature Center, 427
- Freighter's Museum, 121
- Nelson House, 102
Volkmer said the museum pass has been a success in terms of its goals of accessibility to local visitors and to encourage local residents to invite their out-of-town guests to tour the museums.
From 2009 to 2012, local visitors at the Nature Center rose from 29 percent to 65 percent. Nebraska City residents also made up more than 40 percent of visitors in 2012 at the Firefighters Museum, Old Freighters, Nature Center and Nelson House.
Out-of-town visitors made up more than 85 percent of the visitors in 2012 to Lewis & Clark, Mayhew Cabin, Wildwood House and Civil War GAR Hall.
Volkmer said new events are planned at the museums to encourage locals to visit each year.