The much-loved community standby Anna Bemis Palmer Museum is undergoing changes and adjustments under the leadership of museum volunteer Nancy Beach.
“My ultimate goal isn’t to have people come in and see 8,000 artifacts; I want them to see the stories of 8,000 artifacts,” Beach said. To accomplish this, Beach is adding fluidity through the museum by grouping items by category and/or date, and having the adjacent displays be related progression through the museum. “One of the things I’m trying to do is collect similar things and tell a story,” she said.
Beach was recently recognized with History Nebraska’s 2019-2020 Heritage Hero Award, which is presented to volunteers of cultural organization across the state of Nebraska. Beach is among 43 volunteers recognized across the state for dedication to preserving and sharing the history of their area. “She is a perfect example of the volunteers across the state,” said Lance Bristol, who serves on the History Nebraska Board of Trustees. “She has great plans for the museum.”
Among those plans are some fine-tuning of the museum’s extensive collection. Beach said she is going to rotate special displays. “We want to keep it fresh. I’m going to be very selective that I include things that tell the story of York County,” she said. This includes brochures to help direct visitors to a specific display. “These are props I’m moving to tell a story,” Beach said.
Serving as a volunteer, Beach is managing the museum out of a love of community history. “It’s rare that you have someone with that kind of passion to keep the history of the community alive,” Bristol said. “The more I read the more I realize I’ll never know,” Beach said of York County’s history. However, Bristol said, Beach has a lot of knowledge to bank on. “She is a walking York County history machine.”
Much of that history will permeate Palmer’s space. For now, Beach’s focus is on the museum walls, with display case fine-tuning coming later. “I’m claiming every inch I can,” Beach said of the museum’s limited space. While Beach has many ideas of her own, she said that input from others will be essential to the museum’s operations. “It’s going to be a lot of imagining and listening to other ideas – that’s what is going to make it all the better,” Beach said. “Flexibility is the key thing. This isn’t my museum – it’s the city’s, but most of all it’s the county’s.”
The Anna Bemis Palmer Museum occupies a space in the York Community Center (211 E 7th St,), and is open during regular community center hours.