Sarpy County Museum on the move to larger facility

Officials are eyeing a new site in Papillion to increase the museum’s visibility and access.
The Sarpy County Museum is raising funds to move to a larger and more accessible location in Papillion.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 3:47 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Sarpy County Museum is one of the best-kept secrets in the metro, but it’s not intentional.

Tucked away in a residential area, a locked gate to Offutt Air Force Base prevents thru traffic. The museum is isolated and hard to find.

“We’re tucked away where we’re at right now in the far corner of the fastest-growing county,” said Ben Justman, the museum’s executive director.

Justman says the Sarpy County Museum has been in this building since 1977. The orange carpet is the original floor covering. The building itself is too old and too small.

“This museum was a huge step up when it was built to preserve local history,” Justman said. “But it was built at a time when Sarpy County [had] 80,000 people, and the projections for 2050 are going to be 300,000-plus. We’ve maxed out on space, floor to ceiling.”

There’s no room to grow here. Storage space is so tight Justman has had to turn away a number of artifacts.

The Sarpy County Museum is one of the metro's best-kept secrets -- although that's not intentional.

Justman is laying out a plan to build a bigger space. The plan is to build a 28,000 square-foot museum on a three-acre site near 90th and Highway 370.

“We did a study and determined 28,000 square feet would be appropriate for us,” Justman said. “The Durham, for example, is 80,000, so it’s a big step up from a 6,000 square-foot building to 28,000 square feet.”

Justman says a bigger facility would give Sarpy County more room to tell the history of this area -- and put all of these exhibits in a space that will be more visible.

Justman estimates it will cost $15 million to build the new museum. Officials are currently fundraising. The first step will be to acquire the property at 90th and Highway 370 in Papillion. If all goes as planned, officials hope to have the museum complete sometime in 2026.