COLUMBUS, Neb. — Attracting visitors from over two hours away, the Columbus Children’s Museum is nearing its opening and is hoping to show off many attractions.

After a failed bond measure years ago and planning from 2020, the Children’s Museum in Columbus is set to open in 2024 and for staff who’ve worked on the project, it means even more to see the plans come to fruition.

“It’s just harder to picture it being done but once the walls started coming in and the kid’s town furniture started coming in and then flooring and things like that,” executive director Katy McNeil said. “It really started to come together.”

The new museum is part of the community building in downtown Columbus and McNeil hopes the building draws visitors from across the state as it’s the first in the region.

“Not only are we providing a safe, indoor play space for families in our immediate region but also visitors coming for baseball games,” McNeil said. “Maybe they get rained out. Maybe they’re here for a gymnastics tournament or something related to that.”

Other priorities for the museum is being as inclusive as possible with exhibits being physically, financially, and sensory inclusive.

In making sure the building meets those requirements, the building features a room which, according to McNeil, is one of the first in the country to be certified in the Kulture Cities which requires employees to be trained for sensory sensitivity.

“We’re the first children’s museum in the United States, that we know of, that has become sensory certified for Kulture Cities,” McNeil said. "It’s a pretty cool accomplishment."

With the gift shop set to open on Thursday and Friday, director of educational programming Alyssa Miller said she hopes this becomes a staple in the community.

“Getting the opportunity for parents to see that we’re the educational ‘it’ spot so that we’re not just a glorified playground,” Miller said. “We’re an opportunity for kids to learn and explore what they want to do with their futures.”

The museum is set to open up Jan. 17 for members and Feb. 22 for the general public.

“We’re excited to welcome everyone in when it’s time,” McNeil said.