Morrill Hall’s newly opened fourth floor tells Nebraska’s story

Cherish Nebraska opens to the public on Saturday, February 16 in the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall. The new exhibit spaces celebrate Nebraska's natural heritage - the diversity of life that has been shaped over the millennia by Nebraska's changing environments. February 11, 2019. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication.

by Caroline Clements

All is still as Barbourofelis crouches, his saber-like teeth gleaming in the light, waiting to ambush his prey. The enormous Bison latifrons stands majestically nearby. Listen closely; you’ll hear birds and water. This scene greets guests as they enter Cherish Nebraska at the University of Nebraska State Museum-Morrill Hall. The recently opened exhibit tells the story of Nebraska’s past and present through displays, interactives and digital media. 

Nine galleries fill the entire fourth floor of Morrill Hall. Start with a trip through Nebraska’s past in Landscapes Through Time. See what the area was like when elephants, camels and prehistoric cats like Barbourofelis roamed the grasslands. View portions of a vertebrate fossil collection that is second in size only to the American Museum of Natural History. 

Enter Nebraska Modern Landscapes to navigate our state’s major ecological regions and water systems. Play in the virtual watershed table and marvel at the complexities that make up our current landscapes. Children can crawl through our replica rattlesnake den and cottonwood log. 

The digital projection globe in Sustainable Earth examines the effects of human activity on our planet. A 5-foot diameter sphere operates like an inside-out planetarium with a projector inside. Three continually rotating programs discuss climate, the Ice Ages and biodiversity. 

Those who enter Transforming Prairies will learn the story of humans on the prairie from Paleoindians to modern Nebraska. Try your hand at making the ancient atlatl weapon and hunt prehistoric animals to feed your family. 

In the Science Exploration Zone you become the researcher. Open drawers and pull out artifacts and fossils to examine under microscopes. Or visit with our experts as they conduct actual research in the Visible Lab. Each of our museum divisions rotate through this space. 

In the State Museum Science gallery you’ll follow the work of University of Nebraska scientists from field to laboratory with videos, an interactive field station and microscope stations. Expand your knowledge of parasites with our touchscreen Parasite Table and its games. Don’t forget to browse our Collection Walls. These displays share some of the more than 13 million objects from our Museum collection. 

Cherish Nebraska and all our exhibits across three additional floors are included in the daily admission rate of $8. Senior, child and military discounts are available. Each gallery tells a complete story in case you can’t visit everything. Find us downtown near 14th and Vine Streets. 


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