Given that admission is free, this small museum is probably worth a visit if you have an interest in the subject matter. The Western Historic Trails Center is about the nation’s westward expansion and more specifically about the California, Oregon, and Mormon trails, which passed near this spot. If you’re planning to go to Omaha from Kansas City or any other route via I-29, the center really isn’t out of your way as it is located just south of exit 1B on the Council Bluffs side of the Missouri River adjacent to Omaha. Inside the center, you’ll find a theater with a short film and the rest of the museum is basically one big room. There are panels to read about life on the trail and the various issues which faced pioneers. There are photos, illustrations, and in some cases, video footage, to go with the exhibit text and above the text are sheet metal sculptures which generally illustrate the trek westward. Our most recent visit was in early March 2012 and we noticed that there was no artwork on the museum's back wall above the exhibits. The woman at the desk said all the artwork had been taken away in precaution of possible flooding the previous summer and the museum was just in the process of getting them back from storage. The museum backs up to the Missouri River levy and apparently came within inches of overflowing. That great gift shop referenced by other reviewers? The woman at the desk said it was recently closed due to budget cuts, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me since one would assume it was a revenue-producing function. She also said the museum is in the process of seeking funds for new exhibits. I did not realize before this visit that the center is "stampable" for national parks passports, so if you have a passport, be sure to bring it! If you do visit the museum, be sure to check out the small monument on the south side of the parking lot which features mosaic art themed around the Lewis & Clark Expedition. We’ve never taken the time to walk the trails here, but I would be interested in doing that someday.
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