Walking Tour: Floor Murals That Floor You
As you enter through the double doors into the rotunda of the Plainsman Museum, you'll be tempted to look up, and stay there. The murals are breathtaking and more than a little bit likely to keep your eyes off the floor. But don't. You can't really appreciate the heavens without understanding the earth. Even without knowing their story, the floor murals will floor you.
The mosaic tile floor (photos below) represents the coming of the "Plainsman" to Nebraska. The original drawings were done by Mr. Wesley Huenefeld.
Wesley Huenefeld's vision and lifelong interest in conservation and Hamilton County history have contributed immeasurably to the community. He served as president of the Hamilton County Historical Society for 38 years. Under his leadership, the dream of the Plainsman Museum was born and seen to completion. His contributions through the years have earned him the title of "The Father of the Plainsman Museum."
- from Mr. Huenefeld's obituary in the Grand Island Independent, January 17, 2004
A sunburst in the center of the rotunda, titled "The Plainsman", is roughly 25 feet across. This mosaic depicts a farmer sowing seed, representing civilization, agriculture, and industry. Next to him is the pioneer woman, babe in arms, representing fertility, growth and resilience. A little girl picks sunflowers, representing the fine arts, and her brother leads a cow representing agriculture. The family dog symbolizes friendship.
A bright Nebraska goldenrod and tall Kansas sunflower depict the time when Nebraska and Kansas were a territory together.
Surrounding the plainsman's family, on the tips of the sunburst, are the trials of a prairie pioneer - nature's violence, disease, drought, and pestilence.
Around the the center sunburst are eight octagons depicting the animals and types of habitat found on the prairie.
Photos cannot reflect the awesome feeling invoked by standing in the rotunda beneath the heavens and the mighty murals, surrounded by plains history, and standing upon the flora and fauna of this area. It's an in-person must see.
Exit 332 off I-80, head north 3 miles and look for our sign: The Plainsman Museum.
The photos in the gallery below do not represent the totality of each of the nine interwoven murals set into the floor. They are, in fact, much larger than could be photographed by a cellphone camera - even standing on a 10' ladder (as I was). But they will, hopefully, give you a taste of what must surely be seen in person.
Click on the photos below to read more on each featured mosaic.
Information on the animals in the mosaics taken from THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE GREAT PLAINS http://plainshumanities.unl.edu