Many of the early settlers in south central Nebraska were Swedish either coming directly from Sweden or moving west from Illinois. From the exhibits in this museum it looks like they carefully preserved all of their family heirlooms - so much stuff in such good condition!
Another group of immigrants were Germans from the Volga region of Russia. These farm families played an important role during WWII. A large percentage of the men joined the armed forces which left Nebraska with a shortage of farm labor at a time when the crops grown was desperately needed. At the same time England was running out of room to house German prisoners of war. Eventually more than 400,000 German prisoners were interned in the US. Over 12,000 were sent to Nebraska. All of them except Nazi sympathizers were permitted to work for local farmers. Since many of the farm families still spoke German friendships formed that continued even after the prisoners were sent home at the end of the war.
Don’t miss the Thomas F. Naegele Gallery in the POW exhibit. Naegele’s mother was Jewish. The family escaped from Germany and emigrated to the US the the late 1930s. Naegele was drafted into the army in 1943 and was assigned the job of producing a German language newspaper and study materials for POWs at Camp Atlanta which was about 8 miles south of the museum. He painted a series of very colorful pictures detailing his experiences in the camp.
This museum is large with a variety of exhibits so give yourself plenty of time to see it.
The ground floor is accessible but the ramp to the entrance door does not have a landing and the door opens outward making it awkward to enter. A balcony display area circles all of the rooms but only one has a working lift. Three buildings that have been relocated to the grounds have ramps. We did not visit them but they appear to be accessible.