Barn Again! is a tribute to a lasting symbol

Friday, January 4, 2002

Barn Again!

A play on words from the "born again" phenomenon of the Jimmy Carter era, the Smithsonian Institution show is now on display at the High Plains Historical Society Museum, 413 Norris Ave.

"The barn is more than a building. It is a witness to centuries of change." So reads the brochure on the exhibit, and the statement is true.

Construction of a barn, the larger the better, was a sign of a farmer's success. Perhaps because farms were far apart out here on the prairie, a big barn had to be big to let a neighbor know we were someone worth keeping up with.

Haylofts were not as necessary in our dry, high plains weather as they were back in humid Iowa or Illinois, but many a soaring structure included such a room any way.

The Barn Again! exhibit is on display from now until Saturday, Jan. 26, open for public viewing from Tuesday through Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday from five to 8 p.m., or by special arrangement.

Visitors will learn the history of the barn throughout the ages, various types of construction, and how the structure both reflect and affect society.

In an eerie reflection of the events of September 11th, one of the five kiosks that comprise the exhibit explores the relationship between barns and city skyscrapers. Both are obsolete, the writer contends, with businesses abandoning downtown high-rise buildings for sprawling corporate offices covering suburban land where barns once stood.

In addition, the display includes more than 200 photographs entered in this newspaper's barn photography contest; select barn paintings and photographs from the McCook Art Guild; a miniature barn collection by Red Willow County extension educator Kent Been; a video of area barns, filmed and narrated by Ken Dow of Indianola; a video narrated by Nebraska historian and humorists Roger Welsch, telling about barns in Nebraska; and an Ethnic Barns of Nebraska display, prepared for the Nebraska tour by Washington County.

Friday's Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting was only one of a number of special events planned in conjunction with the Barn Again! visit. Others include "The Barn Show," on Thursday at the Fox Theater, a talk by John Carter of the Nebraska State Historical Society on Monday, Jan 14, and a recognition ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 17.

Please take a few minutes -- or a few hours -- to stop by.

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