Kearney archway museum to close for 2 months

Associated Press Updated: December 27, 2013 at 11:00 am • Published: December 27, 2013 0

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — The museum that straddles Interstate 80 in Kearney will be closed for two months so staffers and volunteers can complete maintenance projects and do some updating.

The Archway's board of directors announced Thursday that the museum will shut down on Wednesday and reopen on March 1.

"The facility has been open almost nonstop for 13 years, and this closure provides a great opportunity to focus on the rebranding of the facility and the grand reopening," said Joel Johnson, president of The Archway's board of directors.

The museum has historical exhibits that commemorate the Oregon, Mormon and California trails that pioneers used and honors the nation's highway systems and railroads.

Known since its opening as the Great Platte River Road Archway, the monument has been renamed The Archway, the board said earlier this month. Officials said the name change is one of many steps that will be taken over the coming months to rebrand the facility. The change will help promote and market the attraction and will simplify Internet searches, travel guide directories and other promotional materials, officials said.

The museum has struggled with disappointing attendance since its opening. Nearly 250,000 people visited in 2001, for example, but last year's attendance was 49,960.

The Archway emerged from bankruptcy in September after it settled more than $20 million in debt with bondholders, vendors and businesses by paying $100,000.

Officials have said they hope that a new interstate exit that opened just east of the arch this year will boost attendance.

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