New Methods in Nebraska: A Case Study with the Hastings Museum

Julia Kennedy - Marketing & Aud Dev Associate


Did you know Hastings, Nebraska is the birthplace of Kool-Aid? We didn’t either until we did a workshop with the Hastings Museum, where learned this and so much more kool stuff.

We sent our San Francisco guide Casey to the Hastings Museum, the largest municipal museum between Chicago and Denver.1

San Francisco tour guide Casey, making the trek to the Hastings Museum in Nebraska, aka her 50th state!

The museum holds a variety of historical artifacts and is a piece of history itself. The building, funded by the Works Progress Administration, opened in 1939 and contains exhibits on everything from life of pioneers on the Plains to antique vehicles. Popular favorites are Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream, the planetarium, and a Mosasaur skull.1

The museum has a long history within the community, and has developed some entrenched audiences, creating amazing programming for kids, parents, school groups, and even retired folks. But staff at the Hastings Museum felt there was room for their engagement to grow, and new audiences to share their collection with, so they called us.

The Hastings team has worked together for a long time and is used to partnering collaboratively together, so team members were comfortable and outspoken from the start. What made the workshop even better was the diverse backgrounds of this group.

Of the participants, only two regularly work in education or public programs. The rest of the participants came from departments from operations to collections to marketing. This diversity made for an awesome platform to build upon, as it made the team work even closer together and think about how they can utilize our 5 Elements and storytelling techniques in their own departments.

Who said you can only tableau vivant with paintings?

Using activities and games, this group learned able to see their collections in a new light. One of our favorite activities (Buy, Steal, Burn) really resonated as a way for the team to address some old and outdated cultural displays that were installed in the 1980s.

Even with the wide variety of team backgrounds, every participant did a phenomenal job. Here’s what our guide Casey had to say:

“Everyone knocked it out of the park when it came time for them to present on the museum floor. No one skipped an element or slipped into lecture mode – it was really engaging and as an outsider I would have guessed that they were all practiced public speakers.”

The awesome staff at Hastings Museum!

So what did the Hastings Staff think?

“Not only was it great team building for our staff, but it really helped us look at our exhibits, programming, and collections in a whole new way. We’re already generating ideas and can’t wait to implement them. The great thing is we feel like we can actually put what we learned into practice, despite our already busy schedules, small staff, and tight budget. You know how when you go to a conference and get all these new ideas and are super excited, and then you go back to work and reality hits and you get a little bummed? I don’t think any of us walked away with that feeling.  We walked away with energy and inspiration. It was very refreshing.”

-Russanne Hoff, Education Manager

Thanks to the whole team at the Hastings Museum! Want a workshop with your team? Contact our Audience Development team at [email protected]

Notes & Gossip 📌

  1. Hastings Website (

Scholarly Shout-outs 🌟

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