Lisa’s Favorite places is spotlighting another “favorite place” in Alliance, Nebraska, Knight Museum and Sandhills Center. It had been over 30 years since my last visit to Alliance. I was so excited on my most recent visit to see Alliance has this incredible museum spotlighting the history, the land, the people, the industry and the growth this small town has made since its founding March 28, 1888 and even long before. As you enter the museum, the welcome desk is on the left along with a gift shop. I was immediately greeted with gracious hospitality welcoming me to the museum. As you enter to the right, it is like stepping back in time to the beginning.
From floor to the tall ceilings, there are exhibits, artifacts, scientific displays that creates a walkway of education as you follow the open hallways through the museum. There is so much history and vast exhibits, a person could spend a whole afternoon learning about this interesting city and the region known as the Sandhills. The museum is divided into Life in the Sandhills, Native American Life, Life in the Country, Life in the Town and the Railroad. There is a second theme of Rogues, Rascals & Visionaries who settled in the area.
From their website: “Knight Museum Mission Statement: The Knight Museum & Sandhills Center will continue to preserve, honor and educate others about the history of Alliance and Western Nebraska and about the Sandhills pioneer spirit.”
One of the most amazing exhibits for me was of the Native American Lakota exhibits from the tipi, to their intricate hand made clothing, headdress, moccasins, etc. With my fascination of geology, it was extremely interesting to learn about the land, the soil, water sources that are native to the region. There were numerous displays of the animals and wildlife that are common to the region. As you continue to meander through the museum, one of the most intriguing aspects were all the historical artifacts on display from the farmers/ranchers tools and equipment used on the farmland from the early days, to the exhibits of the beginnings of the region and the railroad industry prominent in the region, to the families who played historical relevance in the city and furnishing, clothing and memorabilia from their homes.
During my visit, the museum had a traveling exhibit on display from the Smithsonian Institute, “Waterways”, on the concept of water. It was incredible to see a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian at a museum in a town of just over 8,000 people!
I could have spent many hours taking photos and notes as there is so much to see and learn from each individual exhibit within the museum. I have visited many museums across the United States and I have to say this museum ranks in the top 5 of all time favorites covering history, geology, nature, wildlife, culture, Native American life, industry, family life and community growth all under one roof.
The Knight Museum and Sand Hill Center is a valuable asset and historical treasure to the city of Alliance. It provides an incredible opportunity for local school children to see first hand the history of the town they live in. And for visitors, it is a chance to realize this museum and town is a mecca for those fascinated by history, geology, nature, archaeology, industry, and city/regional development from inception. An interesting fact from Visit Alliance website on Alliance: “Alliance is located in Box Butte County in Western Nebraska. The name Box Butte was named for the unique box-shaped buttes that jut up from the surrounding sandhills in the northeast section of the county.