HASTINGS — With a mini pizza parlor, an interactive weather station and life-sized operation game, the Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska will reopen its doors in the lower level of Allen’s Superstore sometime next month.

Deb Boesen, the executive director of the children’s museum, said the museum will continue with many of the previous exhibits, but they are changing to be more interactive and appropriate for kids of all ages. Although the opening day has been postponed, Boesen said the museum hopes to schedule it for mid-June.

The Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska decided to move from the Imperial Mall at the end of March to Allen’s Superstore. Boesen initially opened the children’s museum in 2003 in downtown Hastings, and then decided to relocate to the Imperial Mall in 2004. This spring, Boesen has worked alongside Cardinal Construction, W.G. Pauley Lumber Company and the Allen family to relocate the museum.

Boesen said she has a passion for kids and young families, and believes Allen’s Superstore is the perfect place for the museum because they have an interest in families.

“They are family-friendly and they’ve wanted to bring younger families here to shop,” Boesen said. “It’s just a good fit and they do a lot of family events like kids’ crafts. They care about families and they are local.”

In addition to the interactive areas with the farm activities, construction machines and wall-climbing, the children’s museum is focusing on keeping more open space. The children’s museum is only using half of Allen’s Superstore’s lower level for the exhibits and the activity rooms. Boesen said they are excited to have more optional space for larger events.

Boesen said the response has been positive, and the Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska ended up in the top 10 of non-profits for this year’s Give Hastings Day. The museum also set up an Amazon wishlist with products they wanted for their relocation, and has received almost every item.

“So we have had a lot of support from the public,” Boesen said.

Two local artists, Gretchen Wiseman and Valerie Brock, have painted the majority of the murals on the museum’s walls so children can enjoy the variety of colors and shapes.

Eric Allen, the owner of Allen’s Superstore, was helping paint the walls with his daughter, Ashley.

Eric said it is exciting to once again have young people and children in the lower level of the store, since it previously had the leading toy department in the county.

“I’ve always believed that the lower level was destined for young people,” Eric said.

Eric said the store hopes to collaborate with the museum in many of the sales, activities and events. He said customers cannot wait to see the museum open because it facilitates shopping and child care.

After completing the arrangements, Eric said Allen’s Superstore’s next step is to find a store compatible with the museum’s hours and environment for the upper level.

“We are excited for the children’s museum, and opening day will be an exciting day,” he said.

Melanie Allen, a family member, said Allen’s Superstore has been very interested in the children’s museum since learning about its need for relocation.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Melanie said. “We are very tickled to have them.”

With the delay of opening day, Erik said bathrooms will be designed and placed in the lower level of the store close to the museum. Elevators are also available next to the stairs leading to the museum.

Boesen said the public should “be prepared to come and just want to stay the whole day.”

For more information about its official opening day, check out the Children’s Museum of Central Nebraska’s website at www.cmocn.org or its Facebook page.

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Natalie Saenz is The Independent's summer intern for 2019. She welcomes news tips and information 24/7!