For as long as he can remember, Steve Sommer has loved collecting rocks and fossils.
“I use to haul them in, and my mom hauled them out,” he laughs.
Along with his life-long interest in fossils, Sommer has long fostered the desire to open a museum. That dream has finally come true.
The Bone Yard Creation Museum will host its grand opening this weekend, though the museum actually opened to the public May 15. Getting to this point has been a long process, involving lots of hard work and sweat and lots of help, Sommer says.
“It (the museum) contrasts creation science with evolution - such things as how the earth originated and how you interpret fossils, with two totally different points of view,” Sommer explains. “Evolution says “big bang” around 13 billion years ago, while creationism is a direct interpretation of the Bible, which is in terms of thousands of years.”
Sommer has been interested in science most of his life. “The definition of science is when something is observable, testable and repeatable. Neither evolution or creationism fits that,” he says.
He had long had in mind an idea of the kind of museum he wanted, but it was when he became deeply interested in creationism verses the theory of evolution that he knew what direction he wanted to move in for the museum.
“It’s hard to find a place to learn about it - you can’t learn it in schools or in the media, so I wanted to come up with a way to get that out,” explains Sommer.
Once he had determined what he wanted to do, the next step was finding the right location. Sommer says a friend told him about this building on Highway 2, and knowing it would be the ideal location for what he had in mind Sommer purchased the building in May 2011.
Prior to finding the right location for his museum, Sommer was already putting together items to go in it. He had made a trip to Fargo, N.D., where he purchased some remnants of a museum there. The pterosaur and utar raptor displayed in the museum came from a bathroom supply store in Houston, Texas.
“I was looking everywhere for things!”
After purchasing the building Sommer went to work drywalling the interior and painting the ceilings. Sommer says he has had lots of help on the project, including volunteers from three area churches, members of the home-school community and a group of Christian contractors from Kearney.
Sommer explains that the displays in the museum outline the time difference between evolution and creationism, the origin of life, and progress through the time line. Fossils and various plant and animal groups are displayed here as well.
Whale evolution is depicted along the west wall of the museum, which features a 30-foot mural painted by well-known Nebraska artist Gib Neal. A video presentation can also be viewed in front of this mural.
“The main purpose of the museum is, point blank, if creationism is true the Bible cannot possibly be true,” Sommer says.
He says he has not done much advertising since opening the museum, but plans to as we get closer to fall. Sommer says the response from people coming through the museum has been very positive.
In conjunction with the grand opening this weekend, a gentleman from Ogallala is bringing in to large telescopes for viewing both during the afternoon and evening hours. The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with admission just $3. Cookies, pop and juice will be served, and a special astronomy talk is set for Friday evening at 7:30.
Regular hours for the Bone Yard Creation Museum will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday, and 2 - 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open May thru September. Evening hours are also available for appointment.
For more information on the museum, visit the website at www.boneyardcreationmuseum.org .