50 States of Science: The Hastings Museum in Nebraska is as intoxicating as a pitcher of Kool-Aid on a hot summer’s eve.

Strap yourself in for a wild ride through the annals of time at the Hastings Museum in Nebraska. This monument to history is the beating heart of the Plains, the biggest municipal museum sandwiched between the chaos of Chicago and the grit of Denver. From the bone-chilling relics of prehistoric beasts to the vibrant saga of Native American tribes, and the unexpectedly intoxicating tale of Kool-Aid, this is no ordinary museum. So buckle up as we embark on a high-octane journey through the mesmerizing tapestry of exhibits, each brimming with stories that are as captivating as they are bizarre.

NUTSHELL:  if your neurons are buzzing for a mad whirl through the folds of time, reality, and the uncensored madness of human culture, you’d best find your way to the Hastings Museum in Nebraska. It’s not just the biggest municipal museum in this grain-infused state—it’s a freak show of knowledge, a circus of history and science that sways between the boundaries of our mundane existence and the otherworldly wonders of the cosmos. Stagger through exhibits that crawl and roar with life, both past and present, from this corn-fed terrain and the farthest corners of the globe. Then strap in, take a psychedelic dive into the celestial abyss in the planetarium or get your eyeballs rattled by the monstrous 3D theater. It’s a trip, man. Whether you’re a bookish outlaw, a white lab-coat junkie, or just a thrill-seeker riding life’s crazy highway, the Hastings Museum is your ticket to a journey that’s as wild as it is enlightening.

THE NUT: Bursting onto the scene in 1927, the Hastings Museum stands as an unruly beast of knowledge in the American heartland, marking its territory as the largest municipal museum between the gritty metropolis of Chicago and the sprawling expanse of Denver. A Pandora’s box of amusements, it boasts a colossal 65-foot wide theatre screen, a planetarium that sends your mind ripping through the cosmos, and a surreal panorama of animals in their natural habitats. The museum is a psychedelic roller-coaster ride through time, charting the lives of Nebraska’s earliest inhabitants, the rise and fall of prehistoric beasts, and even the quirky tale of Kool-Aid, that world-famous elixir concocted right here in Hastings. At its core, the Museum stands tall as a monument to diversity, equity, and indigenous roots, weaving a wild, hypnotic narrative that transcends time, all under the banner of the mighty Pawnee Nation. This grand spectacle, inspired by the manic collection escapades of one Albert Brooking, finally found its permanent home in 1937, thanks to federal grants, morphing into a realm of intricate animal dioramas and awe-inspiring exhibits. And what a long, strange trip it’s been!

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NOW SHOWING: Kool-Aid Permanent Exhibit. Fasten your seatbelts and take a plunge into the acid trip that is the Kool-Aid exhibit at the Hastings Museum. This is the hallowed ground where Kool-Aid, that psychedelic nectar of the American masses, first sprang from the fertile mind of Edwin Perkins in the roaring twenties. It’s a wild, technicolor carnival, a historical freakshow that tells the tale of how a humble powder, once peddled from the back of a rickety wagon, took over the world and wormed its way into the fabric of our shared pop culture. You’ll be transported back in time, wading through a tsunami of vintage ads, retro packaging, and priceless artifacts that’ll leave you dizzy with nostalgia. This exhibit isn’t just a trip down memory lane, it’s a rocket-fueled journey through the belly of an American dream that’s drenched the world in flavor. So gear up, because you’re about to get a taste of history like you’ve never had before.

COMING SOON: Cinephiles and thrill-seekers! The Hastings Museum is cranking up the voltage and firing up the screen this summer with a legendary blast from the past – Spielberg’s oceanic nightmare, Jaws. This monster of a film is breaching onto our colossal 65-foot theater screen on the hot nights of July 21 and 22. So, if you’ve got the guts for a heart-thumping, adrenaline-fueled ride, clear your schedule. You’ll be plunged headfirst into Spielberg’s high-octane duel between man and beast, a terrifying ballet of fear that’s as chilling now as it was at its inception. Whether it’s your maiden voyage or a terrifying trip down memory lane, we’re rolling out an experience that’ll make you reconsider your next beach vacation. 

GEOGRAPHY: Immerse yourself in the roaring vortex of prehistoric madness at the Hastings Museum, Nebraska. This is where, 82 million years ago, a primordial sea teeming with the nightmares of the Cretaceous period held sway. The undisputed king of the deep, the Tylosaurus, has been brought back from the grave in a mind-blowing 30-foot sculpture that’s as terrifying as it is mesmerizing. Alongside this marine behemoth, you’ll find a fearsome 17-foot Xiphactinus, a Protostega turtle the size of a compact car, and a triplet of spiraling ammonites. These jaw-dropping replicas are the handiwork of native Nebraskan and paleo-artist extraordinaire, Gary Staab. Continue the wild ride upstairs, where you’re greeted by a curated chaos of fossils and replicas spanning from the Cambrian Seas to the Ice Age. Come face-to-face with a mammoth tusk, prehistoric bison skulls, bones of an ancient giant sloth, and teeth from a mastodon. And don’t forget to capture a group photo against this backdrop of bone-chilling history, a snapshot that will forever bear witness to your daring journey through the savage annals of time.

DATE NIGHT: No specific date night per se. But if showing Jaws isn’t incentive enough to make that special invite, I don’t know what is!


Hastings Museum
1330 N. Burlington Ave.
Hastings, NE, 68901.

Museum & Store Hours
Monday 9:00 – 5:00
Tuesday 9:00 – 5:00
Wednesday 9:00 – 5:00
Thursday 9:00 – 5:00
Friday 9:00 – 7:00
Saturday 9:00 – 7:00
Sunday 1:00 – 6:00

Museum Admission
Adult (13-59) $8.00Senior (60+) $7.00Child (3-12) $6.00

IMAGE CREDIT: Hastings Museum.

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