Exploring the Durham Museum in Omaha’s Old Union Station

Omaha’s Union Station, the first art-deco style train terminal in the country, was completed in 1931. After Amtrak took over all passenger rail service in 1971, the train station closed. It was almost demolished, but the railroad donated the station to the City of Omaha instead. Today the building is home to the Durham Museum. The museum’s permanent exhibits highlight Omaha area history, as well as temporary, traveling exhibits from sources like the Smithsonian.

Don’t miss a Midwest Wanderer post.  For a FREE subscription, enter your e-mail address in the Subscribe2 box to the right and click Subscribe.

At first glance when you enter the Durham Museum, you may think it’s still a train station. The ticket windows are still there, but the area behind them is now a gift shop. The soda fountain still serves old-fashioned phosphates and ice-cream treats.

Soda FountainSculptures of those who may have traveled through the station resemble people frozen in time. A businessman checks the timetable. A porter helps a young mom and her children.

Business Traveler SculpturePorter_and_PassengersGo down to the lower level to view museum exhibits. Union Pacific, headquartered in Omaha, is one of the highlighted features. The Union Pacific exhibit includes several railroad cars that you can walk through, including an old club car.

Union Pacific club carModel railroad fans enjoy the extensive model railroad layout. You can also walk through an old streetcar.

StreetcarFeet getting tired? Rest them a bit in the Mutual of Omaha Theater while you view a film about the history of Omaha. Omaha is also headquarters, of course, for Mutual of Omaha, a large insurance company. The city is also big in the telecommunications industry and food processing. You’ll find exhibits on all of these industries in the museum.

Mutual of OmahaMuch of the museum focuses on how people lived, with displays ranging from Native American homes to horse-drawn wagons that transported goods and mail.

TepeeNative American homeWagonWells Fargo wagonSee a reproduction of the Buffet Store, a general store that was owned by Sidney Buffet. Sidney’s son, Ernest, organized the Buy-Rite Store Association. The association purchased products in bulk and passed the savings on to customers.

Buffett StoreAnother museum exhibit features the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition that Omaha hosted in 1898. This world fair event showcased the West.Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition 1898Temporary exhibits usually last a few months and often include hands-on activities. During our visit “Identity: An Exhibition of You” demonstrated how genetics, brain chemistry and social interaction work together to make you who you are. The child in me could have spent the entire afternoon on the exhibit’s interactive stations.

Interactive gamesRailroad buffs, history buffs or anyone wanting to know more about Omaha can spend several hours browsing the exhibits in the Durham Museum.

If you visit the Durham Museum

The Durham Museum, located at 801 South 10th Street in Omaha, is open Tuesday through Sunday, except on major holidays. Check the web site for hours and further details, including upcoming temporary exhibits and events.


Check Omaha hotel rates here.

Disclosures: The Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Durham Museum hosted our visit to the museum. Our admission was complimentary, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you book a room through the “Check Omaha hotel rates here” link above, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *